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
"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
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,
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
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.