Press release: Context, the network of scholars who lead critically acclaimed walking tours in New York and several European cities, announce the launch of 2 ½- and 8-day packaged tours to Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice, London, Paris, Sicily and Istanbul. The first trips will run in April, 2009.

As with their daily walking seminars in cities around the world, Context will strictly limit group size on each trip to no more than six or eight people. Instead of relying on a single trip leader, Context will apply its model of scholar-led walking seminars to these packages: Groups will be passed from expert to expert throughout the trip depending on the specific site, museum, or topic in order to take advantage of the specialized, in-depth knowledge contained within the Context network.

“The trips program was born out of a desire to offer longer, in-depth itineraries to intellectually curious travelers who want go beyond the superficiality of packaged tourism and come away with a deeper experience of place,” says Katie Parla, a culinary historian and long-time Context docent in Rome who has been tapped to organize and oversee the entire Context Trips program. “As well, our small groups allow us to provide a hands-on, intimate experience and to gain special access to places not traditionally open to the public.”

In April, Context will launch the following 8-day trips:

– A Taste of Two Cities, the Food Cultures of Rome and Naples, featuring programs on the cuisine of ancient and Renaissance-era Rome and Naples; cooking lessons, market walks, and annotated meals, all led by internationally known food writers, trained chefs, and key figures in the discipline of culinary history.
– Across Disciplines: Florence and the Renaissance Ideal,
in which a collection of scholars looks at the Renaissance through an interdisciplinary lens, considering the role of painting, architecture, poetry, theology and science in that most influential of periods.
– Mediterranean Palimpsest: Sicily Through History delves deep into the art, architecture, wine, and food of the Mediterranean’s largest island, tracing the impact of three millennia of conquest in Sicily.

Context is also introducing a series of 2 ½-day “mini trips” in each of its cities, weaving together walking seminars on such topics as art history, archaeology, cuisine, and architecture into an in-depth orientation. The company will launch these in April in Paris, Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice, and Istanbul.

“The mini trip is a ‘category buster,'” notes Context founder Paul Bennett. “Because we have a network of over 180 scholars and experts across these cities and are running walking seminars on a great range of topics every day, we’re able to offer an entirely new way for people to take a packaged tour. At only two and a half days, it can work as a base from which independent travelers get started in country and also as an add-on for a participants on a longer group tour.”

Each mini trip begins in the late afternoon on day one with an orientation walk and welcome dinner. The following two days focus on key features of each city, mixing together visits to important, well-known sites with more unusual, surprising thematic walks.

Founded by National Geographic writer Paul Bennett and designer Lani Bevacqua, Context is a network of English-speaking scholars and professionals—including art historians, archaeologists, architects, and gastronomes—who organize and lead didactic walking seminars across eight cities: Rome, Florence, Naples, Venice, Paris, London, Istanbul, and New York. Travel + Leisure named Context one of the top European tour companies for its innovative approach to travel and the depth of its programs. A leader in sustainable tourism, you can learn more about Context by visiting its website.


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  1. ancient roman architecture | Digg hot tags on December 4, 2008 3:03 pm

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