A A A print this page

Tips for Traveling in Europe

Department of Art


(compiled by Elise Smith through the years, so this is very idiosyncratic and incomplete!)

ITALY (Renaissance & Baroque)

Assisi, S. Francesco (with Giotto, Cimabue, & Simone Martini frescoes)


Sta. Croce (Bardi and Peruzzi Chapels with Giotto frescoes; Pazzi Chapel architecture by Brunelleschi; Annunciation relief sculpture by Donatello)
Baptistery - doors by Andrea Pisano & Ghiberti, and Donatello's Mary Magdalene inside Piazza della Signoria - Donatello's Judith and Holofernes
Uffizi Gallery (architecture by Giorgio Vasari) - fabulous museum!
Pitti Gallery
Monastery of S. Marco, for Fra Angelico frescoes (and Museum of S. Marco, for Fra Angelico panel paintings)
Sta. Maria Novella - facade by Alberti - fresco of Masaccio's Trinity in nave, and in the Strozzi Chapel see the frescoes of Paradise & Hell by Nardo di Cione, & altarpiece of Enthroned Christ with Madonna and Saints by Andrea Orcagna (both mid 14th century, post-Black Death style) - in Cappella Maggiore, see Ghirlandaio's Birth of the Virgin & Massacre of the Innocents frescoes
Brunelleschi architecture: Ospedale degli Innocenti (Piazza della SS. Annunziata), Pazzi Chapel in Sta. Croce, interior of S. Lorenzo (also Old Sacristy); Sto. Spirito (& see Michelangelo's early Crucifix in this church)
S. Lorenzo - see Brunelleschi's Old Sacristy and Michelangelo's New Sacristy (with Medici tombs) - also Fra Filippo Lippi's Annunciation panel - also Michelangelo's architecture for the Laurentian Library in S. Lorenzo
Duomo - fresco by Paolo Uccello of Sir John Hawkwood; Michelangelo's last Pieta
Loggia dei Lanzi - Giovanni da Bologna's Rape of the Sabine Woman & Benvenuto Cellini's Perseus with the Head of Medusa
Palazzo Rucellai (architecture by Alberti)
Palazzo Medici-Riccardi (architecture by Michelozzo) - frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli of the Procession of the Magi, in the palazzo chapel
Orsanmichele, with Ghiberti's John the Baptist and Matthew, Donatello's St. Mark, Nanni di Banco's Four Crowned Saints, Verrocchio's Doubting of Thomas
Casa Buonarroti - Michelangelo's Battle of Lapiths & Centaurs
Bargello - Donatello's Davids & St. George, Verrocchio's David
Sta. Maria del Carmine - Brancacci Chapel with Masaccio frescoes
Museo del Opera del Duomo - Donatello's Zuccone & Jeremiah
S. Apollonia - frescoes of the Crucifixion & the Last Supper, and series of Famous Men & Women, by Andrea del Castagno
SS. Annunziata - fresco by Pontormo of the Visitation in the atrium
Sta. Felicita, Capponi Chapel - Pontormo's Entombment
Sta. Trinita - Adoration of the Shepherds painting by Ghirlandaio
Accademia - Michelangelo's David & his Captives for the Julius tomb

Cathedral - Nicola Pisano's 13th-century marble pulpit, baptismal font with Donatello's Feast of Herod panel, Pintoricchio frescoes in the Piccolomini Library
Duccio's Maesta and Pietro Lorenzetti's Birth of the Virgin, in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
Simone Martini's Maesta fresco and Guidoriccio da Fogliano fresco in the Council Chamber, Palazzo Pubblico
Ambrogio Lorenzetti frescoes in the Sala della Pace, Palazzo Pubblico
S. Agostino, with Simone Martini's painting of the Blessed Agostino Novello
Pinacoteca, with Ambrogio Lorenzetti's Madonna & Child w/ Saints
Jacopa della Quercia's Fonte Gaia in the Piazza del Campo

Nicola Pisano's 13th-century marble pulpit in the Baptistery
Campo Santo - Francesco Traini's Triumph of Death (Black-Death style)

Arezzo, San Francesco: Legend of the True Cross, by Piero della Francesco

Giotto's Arena Chapel, Donatello's Gattamelata in the Piazza del Santo
Donatello's Crucifix and high altar reliefs in S. Antonio

Palazzo Ducale, with frescoes by Andrea Mantegna

Ravenna: all the early Christian and Byzantine churches with mosaics!

Brera Gallery
S. Maria delle Grazie (Leonardo's Last Supper)

Mantua, Palazzo del Te (Mannerist architecture & frescoes by Giulio Romano)

Scuoli di San Rocco (great Tintorettos)
Byzantine Mosaics in S. Marco
Accademia museum
Sta. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari - altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini of Enthroned Madonna & Child; Titian's Assumption of the Virgin & Madonna of the House of Pesaro
S. Giorgio Maggiore (architecture by Palladio) - Tintoretto's Last Supper, in the chancel
S. Zaccaria - altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini of Enthroned Madonna w/ Saints
Campo SS. Giovannni e Paolo - Verrocchio's equestrian monument of Bartolommeo Colleoni

Sistine Chapel, Vatican - also look at the frescoes on the walls (e.g., by Botticelli & Perugino)
St. Peter's - Michelangelo's Pieta, Bernini's Cathedra Petri & Baldacchino (& Colonnade outside)
Tempietto, S. Pietro in Montorio - by Bramante
Vatican - Raphael's Stanze
S. Pietro in Vincoli - Michelangelo's Moses
Pinacoteca, Vatican
Borghese Gallery - Titian's Sacred & Profane Love; Bernini's David, Pluto & Persephone, & Apollo & Daphne
Sta. Maria della Vittoria, Cornaro Chapel - Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Theresa
S. Francesco a Ripa, Altieri Chapel - Bernini's Death of Lodovica Albertoni
Piazza Navona - Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain
Villa Farnesina - for Raphael's Galatea
Palazzo Farnese - Annibale Carracci frescoes
Palazzo Barberini -Pietro da Cortona's Glorification of Urban VIII ceiling fresco
S. Ignazio - Andrea Pozzo's Apotheosis of St. Ignatius ceiling fresco
Il Gesu church - Triumph of the Name of Jesus ceiling fresco by Bacciccia (Gaulli)
S. Luigi dei Francesi, Contarelli Chapel - Caravaggio's St. Matthew series
Sta. Maria del Popolo, Cerasi Chapel - Caravaggio's Conversion of Saul & Crucifixion of Peter
S. Agostino - Caravaggio's Madonna of the Pilgrims
Galleria Nazionale di Arte Antica - Caravaggio's Judith & Holofernes
Borromini architecture - S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, S. Ivo
Other Bernini architecture - S. Andrea al Quirinale

Eat cheese croquettes, mousse, chocolates & gumdrops (try big shop on Place du Grand Sablon in Brussels) - and hot waffles from the street stands
Drink various beers, of which that made by the Trappists of Rochefort is especially recommended
If you ever have occasion to cook, try to use their fresh mushrooms, which are wonderful.

Victor Horta Museum (Art Nouveau house)
Laeken Cathedral (19th century neo Gothic; fascinating as an example of revivalist architecture)
any of the many restaurants on Rue des Petits Bouchers, near the Grand Place
films at the Musee du Cinema (pick up monthly schedule in last week of preceding month reserve early)
any ballet choreographed by Maurice Bejart
Erasmus' house
antique market, Sunday mornings, Place du Grand Sablon

Bruges: one of the most beautiful (and beautifully preserved) little towns anywhere don't miss the Hans Memling Museum (in addition to the main Groningemuseum), and the sculpture of the Virgin and Child by Michelangelo in the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (=Notre Dame, Church of Our Lady)

Ghent: altarpiece by Jan van Eyck in the cathedral (10 stars on a scale of 5 try to go at an off time when the chapel won't be so crowded)

Leuven: paintings by Dirk Bouts (15th century) in the cathedral

Museum Mayer van den Bergh (including some marvelous Bruegels)
Burgomaster Nicolas Rockox's house (good example of an upper class Flemish house of the l7th century; patron of Rubens)
Rubens' house
Maritime museum
A fun zoo (when you get tired of everything else)

Tournai: Romanesque cathedral, one of the best examples in northern Europe

Durbuy(?): little village devoting itself to bookstores (like Hay-on Wye in Wales, which has been around longer and so is much better stocked)


Jan Six Museum (wonderful paintings by Rembrandt, Hals, etc., in the 17th century house of this patron of Rembrandt)
Amsterdam Historical Museum and nearby, the Begijnhof
Van Gogh Museum
Stedelijk Museum (modern art)
food market on Albert Cuypstraat, 1/2 mile SSE of Rijksmuseum
flower market on the Singel Canal, west of Munttoren
Indonesian restaurants (e.g., Samasebo, between Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh museum)
Eat apfelpannekoeken (apple pancakes)
Free concerts at the Concertgebouw (used to be Wed. noon)
Oudekerk & Westerkerk & Nieuwekerk old churches
Rembrandt's house
candlelit canals & bridges e.g., Reguliersgracht
wonderful antique stores all along Nieuwe Spiegel Straat

Keukenhof garden

Otterlo: Kroller Muller Museum (l9th 20th century art, especially rich in Van Goghs)

Delft: a beautiful little town, with a major art and antique show and sale every spring; fun to dream about owning the very expensive paintings

Rotterdam: Museum Boymans van Beuningen (excellent museum; even has some of Van Meegeren's Vermeer fakes)

The Hague: Mauritshuis (small museum, absolutely top quality)

Utrecht: the museum here is one of the best places to see works by the 17th century Caravaggisti Terbrugghen and Honthorst
Gerrit Rietveld's Schroder House (De Stijl architecture)
drive along the Vecht River north of Utrecht beautiful old estates

Haarlem: St. Bavo's church, Frans Hals museum

Little towns in Noord Holland: Hoorn (restaurant in old tower on waterfront, the Hoofdtoren), Marken, Volendam, Edam (captain's house, with floating cellar), Alkmaar (cheese market)

Just N of Amsterdam a working windmill can be visited at Zaanse Schans


Kassel: museum and park
Nordlingen, Dinkenbuhl and Rothenburg: small, well preserved villages on the "Romantic Road"


Musee du Louvre!
Musee d'Orsay!
Pompidou Center (keep up with the exhibitions)
Also keep track of art exhibitions at the Grand Palais
Ste. Chapelle
Rodin Museum

Giverny: between Paris and Rouen; house, studio, and gardens of Monet

Caen: very important Romanesque cathedral

Gothic cathedrals at Amiens, Reims, Beauvais, Laon, Chartres


Loire Valley chateaux - e.g., Amboise (you can see the bed where Leonardo died!)

Tournus, St. Philibert wonderful little Romanesque church

Ronchamp, Notre Dame du Haut Le Corbusier's pilgrimage chapel only a possibility
if you're driving

Digne-les-Bains, Andy Goldsworthy sculptures at the Geoparc (with other contemporary Land Art installations), the Musee Gassendi (his clay wall), and his Refuges d'Art (get map at Musee Gassendi - you'll need a car)

"Perched villages" of the Luberon at Gordes, Roussillon, Oppede-le-Vieux, and the bories (dry stone huts with corbelled vaults) near Gordes

Abbey of Senanque (12th-century Romanesque Cistercian abbey with gorgeous lavender fields)

Arles, S. Trophime (Romanesque sculpture) and Roman arena

S. Gilles, church with Romanesque sculpture

Aigues-Mortes - fortress of St. Louis (where he left for the 7th Crusade)

Carcassonne - interesting 19th-century 'restoration' by Viollet-le-Duc (and beautiful mountain-top village of Cordes north of Carcassonne)

Toulouse, S. Sernin (major Romanesque church on pilgrimage route) - also Romanesque church of S. Pierre, Moissac, and the fortress-like Gothic cathedral at Albi


churches in Lincoln, Beverley, York, Durham

Oxford: eat at the Trout (wonderful old building, delicious food), a few miles north of town; a good used bookstore, besides Blackwell and the others in Broad Street, is Robin Waterfield's

National Portrait Gallery, Tate Museum, Courtauld Museum
St. Paul's and other Christopher Wren churches
Best new bookstores: Foyle's and Dillon's

Hay on Wye: just over the border in Wales; book village (incredible amount)

Vita Sackville West's magical garden at Sissinghurst, S.E. of London

A great spot on a fjord is Flan (Fln?), near Aurland off the Oslo Bergen rail line


Go see all the Gaudi buildings and parks, especially Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila
Claes Oldenburg's huge Matches sculpture near the Montbau metro stop
Lichtenstein's Barcelona Head sculpture at corner of Passeig Colom and Via Laietare
Museu Picasso
Walk through the Barri Gotica and the little streets around the Cathedral

Bilbao - Gehry's Guggenheim Museum!

Sanguesa (on the pilgrimage route) - wonderful Last Judgment portal of 12th-century Sta. Maria la Real - and Castillo de Javier (where St. Francis Xavier was born in 1506, with interesting Dance of Death mural in the chapel) near Sanguesa

Prehistoric caves near Puente Viesgo (2 caves at Monte Castillo)

Santillana del Mar - beautiful old town, and nearby is the neo-cave at Altamira

Oviedo - pre-Romanesque buildings: San Julian de los Prados in town, and just of out town Sta. Maria del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo

Burgos Cathedral (Gothic - 3rd largest church in Spain)

Zaragoza - Baroque cathedral of Sta. Maria del Pilar (unimpressive exterior but gorgeous inside, with Goya frescoes in one of the chapels); Aljaferia (mix of Islamic and Christian, fort and palace, taken over by Ferdinand and Isabella)