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Could this be the ultimate villa holiday?

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AROUND 1540, a young Italian mason named Andrea di Pietro della Gondola designed his first country residence, and in doing so began a career that profoundly altered Western architecture.

Palladio, as his patron dubbed him, was a devoted student of Roman antiquities. He took the austere classical forms of religious buildings and refashioned them for domestic purposes.

On our Palladio's Villas tour, you'll be based for five days in the beautiful city of Vicenza, visiting some of the Renaissance palaces and country retreats that made Palladio's name as the greatest housebuilder in history.

The Villa Rotonda is a highlight, of course. But you'll also see how he first applied his genius to relatively humble structures (a "villa" in sixteenth-century Italy was actually alarm) before progressing to such spectacular buildings as the Palazzo Chiericati and the Teatro Olimpico.

Many of the villas are privately-owned and need special permission to visit, which adds to the exclusive nature of the tour. (The Roman baths-influenced Palazzo Thiene, for example, is now a bank, and normally closed to the casual viewer.)

As this is a Martin Randall tour, your lecturer will be someone who is steeped in Palladio's life and work. (We say "lecturer" rather than "guide" because, as professional academics and curators, they impart information of a different hue from that of a traditional guide)

And, like all our tour leaders, the person sharing their scholarship with you can be relied upon to enlighten and inspire, not merely to inform.

Which incidentally makes them a great travelling companion too.

Palladio's Villas takes place 3 times in 2010 (June, September and October). It's a small group tour, which means that the numbers are strictly limited to between to and 22 participants. This makes everything more manageable, increases social cohesion and at the same time allows everyone greater access to the lecturer.

In fact, it's just one of around 180 cultural tours that we operate, all designed for people with enquiring minds and an eagerness to learn, understand and appreciate. And all meticulously planned to ensure a smooth-running, well-paced and enjoyable experience. (Hence, perhaps, our 2009 AITO Award for Travel Company Of The Year.)

You'll find each of these holidays is described in considerably more detail in our much-feted brochure. If you'd like a copy, please call us on 020 8742 3355. Alternatively, visit www.martinrandall.com

And one final thought: if you find Palladio's Villas is full by the time you call, why not try our Music in Palladian Villas festival instead? Or The Venetian Palaces tour? Or ...

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Title Annotation:MARTIN RANDALL TRAVEL; Andrea di Pietro della Gondola's villa
Publication:History Today
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Mar 1, 2010
Words:425
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