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Planning Retirement Online

Learn Italy in later life

If you love Italy, you`ll love this...

Introducing a new holiday concept, launched on the web with… 

This is a story that begins  ‘When Julia met Martin’. It was in the mid-Seventies in Southern Tuscany. Julia was attending an opera festival, working with her husband, one of the organisers. Martin, who lived locally near the village of Montalcino, was similarly helping his wife. 

Over the years, Martin and Julia discussed their belief that tourists often do not get the best out of their holidays and that learning about your surroundings, particularly those as beautiful and historically interesting as the area of Southern Tuscany, is not at odds with having a relaxing holiday. 

Cut to 2002 and the launch of Learn Italy, a series of week-long holidays for small groups (not more than fourteen) which involve a balance of relaxed teaching, guided visits to interesting sites (not always the well-known ones), good food, wine, and a high standard of accommodation. Learn Italy came about as a logical extension of the concept held by Julia and Martin that "ideas and knowledge make lasting souvenirs". It is also a logical extension of their expertise. Both have contacts with art historians, archaeologists and other cultural experts who have helped them devise Learn Italy. 

Martin and Julia thought that Learn Italy would appeal to visitors to for several good reasons: the holidays are designed for people who have come to
expect a high quality holiday, have active minds and are interested in
more than lying on a beach; who maybe don't want to struggle with hire cars
and inadequate guide books. A Learn Italy holiday is also ideal for people
travelling on their own, as shared interests generally make for convivial

Who are Julia and Martin?

Julia_Learn_Italy.jpg (5675 bytes)Julia Barron, 44, first visited Italy on a school trip when she was twelve.
After graduating in Romance languages she worked for several years in
industry and returned to university to obtain a doctorate in linguistics, a subject on which she has lectured at the universities of London, Manchester, Glasgow and Surrey.  

She and her husband, Chris (Chief Executive of Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet) live in Glasgow but have recently bought a small home near Massa Marittima in Southern Tuscany. 

Martin Gray, 57, spent the best part of his working life lecturing at the
University of Stirling, where he was Head of the Department of English
Studies. He is author of several academic books, as well as The Penguin
Book of the Bicycle (1978). His involvement
learn-italy-montacino.jpg (10478 bytes)with Italy started at the
University of Perugia in the mid-1960s.

In 1971 he bought a house near Montalcino with his wife Katie, who is also an academic, currently working at Oxford University's Continuing Education department. Their daughter Laura works in the wine business in Montalcino and is married to a restaurateur.

Where is their first holiday?

Their first holiday will run this autumn (22-29 Sept 2002) and will focus on the
Etruscans. Dr Judith Toms will be the guiding light on one thousand years of Etruscan culture, it’s art, strange burial catacombs and murals, jewellery and artefacts. The culture was brought to an end in about 100 BC by absorption into the Roman Empire, and for a long time little was known about it. But recent archaeological findings are bringing a huge new knowledge, and the holiday will cover social structure, daily life, religion, language, art and architecture. The sites around Montalcino to be visited include Tarquinia, Chiusi, Sarteano, Grosseto, Vetulonia and Roselle.

Future plans include a bespoke week in Florence exploring Renaissance art at the end of January (sorry already full) and an extra week on the Etruscans at Easter 2003 based at Massa Marittima. Martin and Julia are also developing some
interesting language and culture holidays for next year. 

If you’d like to know more about Learn Italy, or to obtain a brochure click here



laterlife interest

The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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