Montecastello di Vibio is an enchanting hill town in central Italy, overlooking the lush Tiber River valley. Our location halfway between Rome and Florence provides artists and students the opportunity to see firsthand some of the Western world's greatest art.
A beautifully preserved medieval fortress town, Montecastello looks much like it did 500 years ago. Fortification walls and remnants of towers surround the tiny heart-shaped village of stone houses and passageways. Vast panoramas of breathtaking landscapes can be seen in every direction.
Montecastello is safe and friendly, and a wonderful place to paint. It is not a tourist town, and the people in the community are very supportive of the school. This delightful village has been the home of the International School for more than 20 years, and a complex of historic buildings houses all of the School’s facilities.
The surrounding countryside is patterned with vineyards, olive groves and sunflower fields, and etched with rows of cypresses and umbrella pines. Preserving over 2,000 years of history, the cities and hill towns of Umbria and nearby Tuscany are landmarks of European culture. Many were built over four eras—Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance.
In this environment, you will paint and sculpt under the same light that spawned some of the world’s greatest art. Here is the architecture and landscape that inspired Renaissance artists like Giotto, Raphael, and Piero della Francesca, and later masters like Rubens, Poussin, Ingres, and Corot. One can see why the region still attracts artists from all over the world.
The main school building, a former convent, has nine single rooms with a view of the Tiber River valley; the building also includes the dining room, the extensive library, video collection, computer room, sculpture and faculty studios, terrace, laundry, and kitchen. There is 24-hour access to a telephone, Wi-Fi, and computers with Internet.
Students and residents also share modest apartments, all a short walk from the school buildings. Rooms are single and double-occupancy. In August and September, Residents and CE students stay in single-occupancy rooms when available.
The School provides housecleaning services and clean sheets and towels weekly. Facilities in Montecastello are simple and involve stairs and hills, and are not suitable for people with special needs.
Each student is assigned a private or semi-private studio with 24-hour access, to study and develop their own personal work. Art materials are available locally, and in the cities we visit on our weekly trips. Classrooms and studios are in several great stone palazzi in the village. Throughout the ancient town and out in the landscape are wonderful motifs and views to draw and paint.
The program fee includes three delicious Umbrian meals each day, excluding trip days. Students, residents and faculty enjoy meals together, enabling students to have close contact with their art mentors.
Meals are prepared in our professional kitchen. The food is simple and wholesome, with fresh produce from nearby farms, and prepared with care by local cooks. A typical lunch includes pasta, a meat dish, two vegetables and a legume, salad, fresh bread, mineral water, fruit, and coffee or tea. We serve a substantial continental style breakfast to prepare us for our work in the studio. As is traditional in Italian cuisine, dinner is lighter and satisfying, with a hot main course and plenty of vegetables and fruit, with soups or pasta.
During the summer we have our evening meals on the school’s rooftop terrace, overlooking the magnificent panorama of the Tiber River valley.
School dining terrace, Piazza view (Todi in the fog)
The ongoing studio work is interspersed with weekly day-trips to study Italy’s millennia-old heritage of art, from ancient The ongoing studio work is interspersed with weekly day-trips to study Italy’s millennia-old heritage of art, from ancient to contemporary, engaging artists in a dialogue with the masterworks of the past and present. We travel by chartered bus to Rome, Florence, Siena, Assisi, Perugia, Sansepolcro, and Arezzo.
A faculty member or visiting art historian gives preparatory lectures to enrich and enliven our trips. Students and faculty are then free to go independently or in groups to visit museums and churches, or anything they wish to see. Faculty and students may organize informal visits to nearby towns like Todi, Deruta, Orvieto and Spoleto, or return to places the group has visited. Car rental services and public transportation enable people to travel independently. The Student Handbook, sent to each student, contains a guide for our trips, as well as information on travel, what to pack, local resources, and details about living and working at the school.
Students may wish to arrive in Rome a few days early to take advantage of the museums there and see the city before beginning the program.
Montecastello is a lively place! In the evenings, students and townspeople relax and have fun at La Torraccia, the famous outdoor bar/cafe/restaurant just outside the medieval wall. Also be sure to visit Montecastello's Teatro della Concordia, the smallest theater in the world. And each year, students and Montecastellese enjoy the many festas in the summer. Last year, we were thrilled by the Gala Equestra (Horse Show), the Medieval Festa, and the Festival di Musica Antica & Classica.