The Gaskell Society

The Gaskell Society

Celebrating the life and work of Elizabeth Gaskell

In the Footsteps of Mrs Gaskell - a sojourn in Rome

Picture: Nicholas Hartmann, Wikimedia Commons

Exciting news for Gaskell Society members! We are offering a trip to Rome, to visit the city Gaskell loved above all others…

The dates will be Friday 22nd – Friday 29th September 2023.

This year, the Gaskell Society tour is being arranged for us by Anthony Coles, who led our visits to Rome in 2006, to Assisi in 2014 and to Venice in 2018. The visit is based on articles by Christine Lingard that appeared in the society’s newsletters.

Friday 22nd

Arrival in Rome, transfer to the Hotel Lancelot. Lunch and time to settle in. Afternoon visit to the local 12 th century Basilica of Saint Clement for a tour of the church and the 4th and 1st century levels below. [Mrs Gaskell would not have seen the lower levels of this church (entrusted to the Irish Dominicans since 1677), as the excavations of the these levels were not carried out until mid-19 th (One plaque mentions 1857 – the same year as Mrs Gaskell first visited Rome) and early 20 th centuries. However as it is one of the most interesting churches in Rome and so near to our hotel, it makes as good a place as any for us to start exploring the ‘eternal’ city.] Optional evening sung vespers (in Italian) with the Augustinian Sisters in the church of Santi Quattro Coronati. [Mrs Gaskell often attended vespers and other religious services in Rome, usually at St Peter’s.]. Dinner. Optional evening stroll to view the Colosseum [which Mrs Gaskell saw by moonlight.]

Saturday 23rd

Morning coach transfer to the Vatican for a tour of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Afterwards there will be some free time to visit the crypt and/or take the lift up to the roof of St Peter’s and climb the 323 steps to the dome and/or to find something for lunch in one of the many cafes and snack bars to be found in the area.

Afternoon transfer to the Porta Pinciana for a walk down the Via Veneto (of later Dolce Vita fame) and the Via San Isidoro [where the Gaskell’s stayed in 1857 with William and Emelyn Wetmore Story at no.43] to arrive at the Piazza Barberini (with its Tritone Fountain sculptured by Bernini in 1642) for a visit to the Palazzo Barberini [The Story’s moved into the Palazzo Barberini from 43 Via San Isidoro in 1858. The Story’s were close friends of the Brownings. Henry James, (who found Mrs Gaskell’s letters charming and would have liked to quote from them more than he was allowed), recorded a charming scene at the Palazzo of Hans Christian Andersen telling his stories and Robert Browning performing as the Pied Piper.] and the the Trevi Fountain.

Return to the hotel by bus or optional taxi. Dinner. Optional evening stroll over the Coelian Hill to see St John & Paul’s (facade from time of the English pope – Pope Adrian VI : 1154 to 1159 – and where St Paul of the Cross is buried) and San Gregorio Magno al Celio (from where Augustine was sent to England in 597).

Sunday 24th

Morning visit to the Domus Aurea for a tour of archaeological restoration site on the Oppian Hill near the Colosseum [The white walls, delicate swags, and bands of frieze framed reserves containing figures or landscapes – have returned at intervals ever since, notably in late 18th /early 19 th century Neoclassicism” as known by Mrs Gaskell.] Lunch, Afternoon transfer to the Borghese Gardens for a view over Rome from the Pincio before descending the Spanish Steps to visit Keats House and strolling along the Via Babuino to All Saints Anglican Church and the Piazza del Popolo. [Marianne Gaskell stayed in this area when she came under the influence of Cardinal Henry Manning, Charles Elliot Norton had an apartment overlooking the Piazza del Spagna, Mrs Gaskell accompanied Catherine Winkworth to the Church of All Saints on Sunday 13 March 1857.] Pizza supper.

Monday 25th

Morning excursion outside of the city walls to the Protestant Cemetery (where John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Antonio Gramsci – the founder of Italian Communist Party – are buried) and the Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls (with its many English connections – and a café to obtain lunch). Continue onto the Villa Doria Pamphili [where Mrs Gaskell gathered anemones and watched little green lizards basking on the stones.] followed by an afternoon guided tour of the Vatican Museums with extra time allowed in the Sistine Chapel after it has closed to the general public and later an aperitif. [Mrs Gaskell attended an Easter service with Catherine Winkworth (Mrs Shaen) in the Sistine Chapel.] Dinner.

Tuesday 26th

Morning guided tour of Galleria Borghese [where Mrs Gaskell enjoyed viewing the works by the artist Raphael]. Afternoon transfer by way of the Catacomb of Saint Callixtus (rediscovered by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1849) [and which Mrs Gaskell visited in 1857] en-route to Palazzola overlooking Lake Albano. Dinner.

Wednesday 27th

Morning excursion to Frascati (famous for its wine and the Cardinal duke of York).[Mrs Gaskell visited Albano in 1863 and stayed in a little inn there so as to visit Frascati the next day.] Lunch. Free afternoon to enjoy Palazzola. Dinner.

Thursday 28th

Morning excursion around the lake to visit the village of Castel Gandolfo for an eco-bus tour of the Papal Gardens and Farm followed by free time for a coffee or ice-cream and shopping in the village and to visit the exhibition in Papal Palace including the apartments. Lunch. Free afternoon to enjoy Palazzola. Dinner.

Friday 29th

Morning transfer to Rome Fiumicino Airport.


Hotel Lancelot

Accommodation has been booked for four nights at the Hotel Lancelot in Rome which has proved very popular with parish groups. This friendly family-run, pleasant and secluded 3 star hotel provides accommodation in mainly twin-bedded rooms with private facilities and air-conditioning.

The Hotel Lancelot is situated on the Coelian Hill between the Colosseum and the Basilica of St John Lateran. Besides Roman remains, the Coelian hill has several interesting churches which were sacked by Robert Guiscard and his Norman army in 1084, and although since rebuilt, the hill has remained almost uninhabited. Except for the area around San Clemente, the Coelian Hill escaped the post-1870 speculative building boom that ruined so much of Rome.

Today the area remains one of the most tranquil and beautiful sections of the city, but still within easy reach of the city’s other attractions by the convenient bus service, the nearby metro or on foot.

Villa Palazzola

Palazzola is a former Franciscan monastery, built on the site of a Roman villa, that occupies a dramatically beautiful position high above Lake Albano in the Alban Hills, 18 miles from the centre of Rome. The Cistercians, who formed the first community here, built the Church of Our Lady of the Snows in the 13th century. In 1920, after 300 years as a Franciscan House, the English College bought Palazzola as a summer retreat from the heat of Rome. The Villa Palazzola stands in 16 acres of mainly wooded land. From the terraced garden, there is a breathtaking view over Lake Albano, with its steep wooded sides, to the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo and down over the city of Rome and the countryside to the sea.

The villa has been modernised in a way that retains its simplicity and character. En-suite rooms are provided in different locations around the Villa including the 17 th century New Wing annex. Main meals are are taken outside (weather permitting) on the terrace or in the 18 th century panelled refectory of the Friars. Coffee and tea making facilities are available 24 hours a day and there is a well-stocked bar (with plenty of soft drinks and ice-creams!). The villa has a swimming pool. For further information and photographs, please see


Flights have not been included in the basic cost due to the variation of prices for the options available. The suggested flights, for which airport transfers are included, are as follows:

From Birmingham (BHX) – with Jet2

Out, Friday 22 September:  LS1227 BHX 08.00 – FCO 11.40

Return, Friday 29 September: LS1228 FCO 12.25 – BHX 14.15

From Gatwick – North (LGW) – with Easyjet

Out, Friday 22 September: EZ8323 LGW 06.40 – FCO 10.15

Return, Friday 29 September: EZ8324 FCO 10.50 – LGW 12.35

From London Heathrow, Terminal 5 (LHR) – with British Airways

Out, Friday 22 September:  BA552 LHR 07.00 – FCO 10.35

Return, Friday 29 September: BA553 FCO 11.30 – LHR 13.05

From Manchester, Terminal 1 (MAN) – with Jet2 

Out, Friday 22 September: LS791 MAN 07.15 – FCO 11.10

Return, Friday 29 September: LS792 FCO 12.10 – MAN 14.15

From Newcastle (NCL) with Jet2

Out, Friday 22 September: LS537 NCL 07.15 – FCO 11.55

Return, Friday 29 September: LS538 FCO 12.45 – NCL 15.00

From Stansted (STN) with Jet2

Out, Friday 22 September: LS1543 STN 07.00 – FCO 10.20

Return, Friday 29 September: LS1544 FCO 11.10 – STN 12.30

When your flights are booked you will be invoiced for them. Please be advised any cancellation fees applicable to your flights will be as per the booking conditions applicable to the airline and fare chosen.

If booking your own flights, please kindly advise us of your flight details so you can be included in these transfers. All other transfers will be booked at cost.


£1,225 (twin/double), £1,225 (sharing in Rome, single at Palazzola), £1,350 (single)

Inclusive of:

    • airport transfers in Italy (for selected flights)
    • 4 nights at the Hotel Lancelot
    • Rome City Tax (currently €4 pppn)
    • 3 nights at the Villa Palazzola
    • 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 7 dinners
    • wine and water with main meals
    • excursion and visits
    • coach circulation charges
    • entry charges
    • guide and coach driver tips.

The following are not included:

    • travel insurance
    • UK airport transfers
    • flight bookings
    • in-flight refreshments
    • 3 lunches
    • entry and transport in free time
    • personal expenditure.

A note about fitness

Rome, a city built on seven hills, requires a reasonable level of fitness for sightseeing. Also due to the number of steps in and around the major attractions of Rome, this tour is unfortunately not suitable for those with walking difficulties.