The Connoisseur Tours – exclusive tours into the world of Art, History and European Heritage
Our personal connections with local people - we can call them “The Connoisseur’s Correspondents” – started a long time ago, while we lived in countries such as Italy, France, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria.
These friends “sur place” make all the difference. “Cor ad cor loquitur” (speaking heart to heart), the motto of the wise John Henry Newman’s coat of arms, might give you a hint about our style of communication: What is precious to our hearts, wants to be shared.
The Connoisseur Tours
- "Metamorphosen der Antike" Autumn 2014 as done in Februar 2013 (German)
- "Apulia" - May 2015 (German)
- "Rome Baroque"
- "Etruscans at their best"
- "Florence and Classics"
- "Roman Times in France"
- "Romans and Grand Tourists in Britain"
- "Hidden treasures in Ireland" TBA for autumn 2015
- "Imperial Vienna and Royal Budapest" as given in May 2011
- "Salzkammergut (Hallstatt Culture)" as given in April/May 2012
- "Salzburg (Festival)" as given in August/September 2012
TBA - future tour, itinerary still to be advised
"Metamorphosen der Antike im Herzen Roms"
Möchten Sie sich an der Reflexion antiker Symbole und Ornamente beteiligen?
Haben sie sich nicht immer schon gerne über "stumme Steine" gefreut und auf deren "Sprache" gelauscht?
Welche antiken Kaiserköpfe haben die Zeiten überdauert und wo? Was hat die Palmette im Laufe der Zeit erlebt?
Welche Säulen und Obelisken haben wo ihren Ursprung und erleben wo ihre Wiedergeburt?
Apulia is one of the most magnificent regions in Italy, known for its beauties in many a field: romanesque cathedrals, medieval castles, important archaeological sites and amazing palazzi as well as the unique "Trulli" villages.
The region was first inhabited by Illyriian peoples, the Messapii being the most well known followed by Mycenaean Greeks then colonizing the area. In the 8th century BC, the ancient Greeks expanded their territories into the area of Taranto and Salento in Magna Graecia.
In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, the Greek settlement of Taras produced a distinctive style of pottery (Apulian vase painting).
To this day, evidence of these links between the ancient Greek and ancient Roman civilisation can be found in the picturesque seaside villages, high above the Mediterranean Sea and can be sensed when walking the small footpaths in Apulia's cities or the most impressive Norman traces, dating back to the famous Staufer emperor Frederic II!
Today's Apulia opens its beaches to mass tourism, and only knowledgeable, inquisitive visitors will get introduced to the country's more hidden and historic beauties.
The very specific style of mediterranean warmth of heart on one side, and pride of an ancient, highly civilized past on the other , are mingling in this "Heel of the Italian Boot". A real adventure for the mind and the senses; with great secrets and surprises to discover!
Several members have agreed for this Tour date from May 2nd to 10th 2013. If you want us to have a word regarding the time frame suitable for you, please let us know.
The Baroque is certainly not the only art period originating in Rome. Specifically if we come from Middle European countries, we are aware of its forms and beauty. But are we aware where and how all that started?
The style started around 1600 in Rome and spread to most of Europe. Motion is the key word for all things baroque, combined with a clear wish to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music. That is what we love in Baroque.
Aristocracy saw the dramatic style of baroque architecture and art as a means of impressing visitors and demonstrating triumphant power and control. The popularity and success of the baroque style was also encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church, another reason why it is not only reasonable but most joyful and highly rewarding to start an introduction into Baroque in the Eternal City.
Taking a deep breath and submerging ourselves into Roman Baroque will create insights beyond Bernini’s and Borromini’s legacies.
"Ancient Rome - Rome Antique"
Ancient Rome is surviving to our minds as a thriving civilization from the 8th century BC to the 7th and 8th century AD; its history familiar to us since our school days or Asterix years.
We might even be aware of the urbanistic continuity visible in today’s Roman street map; but to what extent! „Viuzze & Scale“ (small streets and stairs), „Vie & piazze“ (avenues and open squares) reveal themselves to the visitor’s eyes with rewarding surprises, architectural connections to Rome's antique past become obvious on today’s surface
Napoleon I - so the story goes - once asked Il Principe Massimo (Prince Massimo): "Tell me, is it true that you are descending directly from one of the oldest Roman Patrician families of the first century AD?"
"Well, your Majesty," answered the prince with well-hidden amusement, "I don't know this, being born relatively late myself. But as a matter of fact, this is what the family has kept telling for the past 2000 years."
The Ancient Rome contributed to such extent to our civillzation’s government skills, legal systems, warfare, art, literature, religion, architecture, technology and language, that our days in Rome will be filled with lively exchanges of opinions, discussions on values and joyful moments while sharing Rome’s wealth of beauty and art.
Please contact us if you are interested in taking part in this special tour.
Florence was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. But where to start quenching our thirst to see, to oberserve, to study and to understand this amazing city?
Florence’s artistic and architectural heritage and the content of its numerous museums and art galleries still greatly influence the worlds of art, culture and politics
This tour - more than any other one in this list - will mirror Walter Hagg's personal taste and passion for arts and history, artists and architecture, music and Mediterranean beauty. Exchanging with (you as) members of the “Inner Circle” hand-picked visits, realised and put into place by close Florentine friends, will let tour dreams come true.
Any suggestions for convenient travel dates? March 2013 could be a guess!
"Southern Counties of England"
On this trip we will concentrate on England’s Southern Counties Famous cathedrals are of course the starting point for these plans, not to forget historic manors, castles, gardens and - often private - collections.
Not by chance the counties bordering the English Midlands are considered by many to be a cultural region with a distinct identity from that of the rest of England.
Since his early student years Walter has loved many of those treasures - specifically comparing Gothic Cathedrals to French Gothic style. He compares them in spirit and in form, in colour and in structure to the innumerable cathedrals he has visited on the continent. Several fascinating itineraries wait to be taken; and why not include Laon or Beauvais into the trip as well?
Inner Circle members will help us to identify the best dates to visit Wells and Exeter, Gloucester and Bristol as well as York and Westminster, to name only a few!
"Roman Times in France"
Until the 5th century Roman occupation left its mark on the cities of Nimes, Arles, Orange and Avignon, to name only some of the evidence of Roman culture that is still visible in the southern regions of France.
Many small towns contain fragments of Roman buildings of mosaics, or low walls, remanants of what was once an impressive villa.
Over and above the frescoes and mosaics that best represent the ‘art’ of the period, it is through the sculptures and statues, and through the remaining Roman buildings, that the artistic capabilities of the Romans are best seen and understood.
We love to admire buildings, decoration and the artistry that went into their design, along with remaining mosaics. Take only Roman art in the Louvre! Antique European heritage in France, in our opinion, is a never ending story. The artistic influence of the Romans is amazing everywhere.
By re-visiting Ceasar’s scriptures on his wars with the Gauls we learn to understand so much of today’s world. Just think of the interpretive skills and artistic abilities that would be the leading ones for thousand years, only to be re-discovered (and surpassed) during the great emergence of art in the Renaissance period.
South of France is “une trouvaille” (a discovery), as you will see!
Some first tentative time frames for this trip could be All Saints 2013. If you want us to save a specific date for you, please let us know.
"Imperial Vienna and Royal Budapest"
Vienna - No need to tell it to commoisseurs: Vienna has its roots far back, in early Celtic and Roman settlements. Many centuries transformed Vienna into a medieval and baroque city, the capital of the Austrian and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Today the city is well known for playing an essential role as a leading European Music Centre, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. Historic centre of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, gothic churches, Rennaissance structures, baroque castles and gardens, as well as the famous late-19th-century boulevard, the Ringstrasse, lined with palaces, monuments and parks.
Many diplomats from all over the world dream of serving in Vienna once, as Walter & Aglae have heard saying often and often again while abroad.
This tour - the first of the newborn idea of The Connoisseur took a group of the International Women's Club Dublin to Vienna and Budapest. And all theses ladies can consider themselves as connoisseurs of Vienna as the program was really very intesiv and loaded with art and history. Get in touch with them through our blog and you will hear from them about their fabulous experience!
Budapest- Budapest's extensive heritage includes both banks of the river Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second oldest in the world. Other highlights include a total of 80 geothermal springs, the world’s largest thermal water cave system, the second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building.
It was only the St Mathias Cathedral and the Castle Hill followed by a quick bus tour through the city that was touched by the First Connoisseur Tour in 2011, organised for the International Women's Club Dublin. Confirming that all later connoisseurs have to start somewhere. Please see the detailed program and be sure that next time this trip will go to depths of Hungarian art history! Agnes Szendey, art historian living in Vienna, will make us all then finally connoisseurs of Buda & Pest!
Detailed itinerary of the 2011"Imperial Vienna and Royal Budapest Tour"
"Salzkammergut (Hallstatt Culture)"
The Salzkammergut is an alpine region, located in Austria, Southeast of Salzburg City. spanning the federal states of Upper Austria, Salzburg and Styria characterized by exquisite contrasts of picturesque lakes and high mountains
The main water way of the region is the Traun river, a tributary of the Danube. The name „Salzkammergut“ means “Estate of the Salt Chamber” and derives from the Imperial domain over rich salt mines, for centuries a particularly precious commodity in Habsburg hands
Large parts of the region - such as the ancient village of Hallstatt - were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1997, with the description: “Human activity in the magnificent natural landscape of the Salzkammergut began in prehistoric times, with the salt deposits being exploited as early as the 2nd millenium B.C.“
In Salzburg’s “Old City” (Altstadt) you will find internationally renowned baroque architecture and one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The city is noted for its alpine setting.
First traces here of human settlements date back to the Neolithic Ages The first settlements around Salzburg were built by the Celts, apparently around 500 BC.
Around 15 BC the Roman Empire. merged separate settlements into one city called Juvavum. The town was awarded the status of a Roman municipium in 45 AD and gained significant importance within the Roman province of Noricum.
After the collapse of the Noric frontier, Juvavum’s status declined so sharply, that by the late 7th century it had become a “near ruin”. The Life of Saint Rupert credits the 8th-century saint with the city’s rebirth.
Around 700, with the support of Duke Theodo of Bavaria Bishop Rupert reconnoitered the river for the site of his basilica and re-named the city “Salzburg”.
The name Salzburg means “Salt Fortress”. It derives its name from the barges travelling on the Salzach River, carrying precious salt, and subject to a toll, as customary at the time.
Again on a general note
When intellectual sharing takes place among friends, a heart-felt note is always part of this exchange. Isn’t it so? If we are not actually friends already, we may become friends while travelling together. Music, Art, History and European heritage are our common interests. We have a wealth of topics to discuss and to share with you and with others.
We may sometimes return to topics we have explored together before in order to deepen our knowledge. We might even go back to the same places. But thanks to changing participants and their very personal contribution in sharing their own interests and areas of expertise, no tour will be like any other.
Think of the famous “Grand Tourists” who travelled in groups and discovered the treasures of ancient Rome and Greece during the 18th and 19th centuries. Let these people be an inspiration to our way of travelling and reflecting!