Vantage Adventures Takes Art Tours Beyond Popular Stops By Dinah Spritzer / February 27, 1997 Share 1 -- GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Vantage Adventures goes beyond the popular frescoes and classical statues of Rome and Florence to revel more deeply in the Italian arts. Renato Vicario, manager of Vantage, said tours can be tailored to the interests of groups and individuals, "from the life of Michelangelo to the Baroque in Naples."Despite the variety and breadth of Italy's artistic masterpieces, Vicario said Rennaisance-themed tours continue to generate the most interest.A lesser-known specialty of Vantage is Etruscan art, which predated the Roman antiquities by several centuries but had a tremendous impact on Italian classicism."Etruscan art is so little known because we know so little about the Etruscans; most of their culture was integrated into the subsequent Roman era."The Romans are really last-minute Etruscans," said Vicario.In describing the unique appeal of Etruscan statues and pottery, Vicario said, "they're a fusion of the suppleness of Middle Eastern art and the classicism that the Greeks became so famous for."Some of the most compelling Etruscan pieces are the black vases of Attica."This type of pottery, bucchero, is black fired in a way we cannot duplicate today."It's a mystery how the Etruscans produced this marvelous light black color," said Vicario.Etruscans placed much of their art in their underground chambers for the dead, necropolises."What's amazing about the Etruscan tombs is that the frescoes are still there, intact," said Vicario.Some of the best-known E-truscan works are the sculptures of Apollo and Hermes in Veii and several sculptures on sarcophagi at the Villa Giulia Museum in Rome (see story, page E29).Their artistic peak was in the sixth and seventh centuries B.C., when they ruled 12 city states known as lucomoniae, including Veii, Bolsena, Tarquinia, Volterra and Perugia.Vantage's Hilltowns of Central Italy for independent travelers concentrates on Tuscany, which was known as Etruria in in the Etruscan era.Highlights include the Etruscan bastions of Perugia and the Etruscan foundations of Orvieto.The tour begins in Florence and continues to the Chianti area, famous for its vernaccia wine.The itinerary continues to the Etruscan city of Volterra, followed by two days in Sienna.Perugia is next, followed by Assisi, Spoleto, Orvieto and, finally, Rome.The tour is priced at $1,909 per person, double, including four-star hotel accommodations, daily breakfasts, a rental car and a detailed itinerary.Vantage also offers the E-truscans for small groups.The eight-night program starts in Pisa and also features Grosseto, Roselle, Vetulonia, Pitigliano, Sovana, Sorno, San Galgano, Sienna, and Arezzo.A full-day excursion is made to the Etruscan tombs and museums at Chiusi.The tour is priced at $1,259 per person, double, land only, with three-star accommodations and two meals daily.For information or to make reservations, agents can call (864) 233-7703 or (800) 826-8268.