Travel With Author Karen Essex In the Footsteps of Leonardo’s Swans

Come with me, Karen Essex, to Renaissance Italy and walk in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci and his patrons and muses.  The fabulously wealthy and powerful Este sisters of Ferrara highlight our tour of the artists, aristocrats, knights, and ladies of LEONARDO’S SWANS.  I will share with friends and readers an intimate experience of the Italy that I love.  We will explore the towns and countryside of Northern Italy including a cultural tour of Milan, which was truly the Athens of the Renaissance.  We’ll be housed in luxurious surroundings overlooking beautiful Lake Garda, where we can relax after meticulously planned day trips, personally guided by Italian historians who will deepen our experience of the art, culture, and times.  Of course, we will make time for the best wines and cuisine as well!  This will be a unique, exciting, nuanced experience of Italy to cherish for a lifetime.

Karen Essex

—Karen Essex, author of the national and international bestseller LEONARDO’S SWANS, about the rivalries among the muses of Leonardo da Vinci during his years in Milan.

Last Supper - Leonardo daVinci


Beatrice and Isabella d'Este

Believed to be Beatrice and Isabella d'Este

Visit the Castles and the Places where the young Este princesses, Isabella and Beatrice, spent their childhood.

  • Castello di Ferrara ~ The home of Isabella and Beatrice.
  • Palazzo Schifanoia ~ The Leisure Palace of the Dukes of Ferrara.
  • Palazzo Contabili ~ Commissioned by Ludovico Sforza with a stunning fresco once thought to be a portrait of the young Este sisters.
  • La Scala Opera House ~ an evening at one of the most famous Opera Houses in the world an attend the performance of “Swan Lake”.
Sailing from Ferrara to Mantua

Let’s have a River Cruise, following the itinerary of the bridal journey of Isabella from Ferrara to Mantua.


Palazzo Ducale di Mantua

Palazzo Ducale di Mantua

Visit the private rooms of Isabella and admire the fine frescoes, precious wooden inlays, gilded ceilings and a secret garden as well. Feel the spirit of the woman, who – even during her lifetime – was described as “The First Lady” of the Renaissance.

  • Palazzo Ducale di Mantua
    The private rooms and the Studiolo of Isabella.
  • Palazzo Te
    The Leisure Palace of the Dukes of Mantua. 

Lake Garda Hillside

Discover the small villages on the hills, where Isabella used to spend her summer holidays, and have here a wonderful experience with a Renaissance Cooking Class.


Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco

The headquarter of the powerful hegemony of Ludovico Sforza, where Beatrice lived.

  • Castello Sforzesco
    Don’t miss the Sala delle Asse, by Leonardo, where the Este and Sforza coats of arms of are joined together.
  • The Last Supper – S. Maria delle Grazie
    The masterpiece of Leonardo. Don’t miss the fading portrait of Beatrice on the opposite wall.
  • Pinacoteca di Brera
    See the portraits of Beatrice and Ludovico in the famous Sforza Altarpiece.  

Certosa di Pavia

The final step of our exploration into the lives of Isabella and Beatrice d’Estes pays a visit to the shrine of the Sforza Devotion: a wonderful example of the Religious Renaissance Architecture, where Beatrice rests in peace with her husband, Ludovico Sforza, 7th Duke of Milan.

This intense immersion into the Italian Renaissance is scheduled for May 2014 and is limited to 16 people.  For more information on this exclusive, luxury escape with Karen Essex and the Royalty of the Renaissance, Call 310-850-4683 or click here to Contact Us.

Click here to view the Itinerary.


written by

Italian travel expert, living in Los Angeles, escaping to Italy several times a year, discovering the unspoiled provinces of Italy. ©2012 Elizabeth Condelli.  All rights reserved
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  • Liz Carlson

    Wow, I love this! What a fabulous idea for a tour!

    • Elizabeth – Promoting Italian Travel

      Hi Liz, It is a fabulous tour, come with us!

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Liz, It certainly will be a fabulous tour, why not join us? We have adding Lake Como to finish up the experience.