Rome Vacation Workshop with Hugo Costa

September 28-October 2, 2023

You're invited to join an exciting 5-day vacation workshop in Rome, Italy taught by super urban sketcher and architect, Hugo Costa.  Hugo will teach 5 art classes to a small group of 10-15 participants and together we will explore the art, architecture, culture and history of Rome. As a former resident of Rome, Hugo will take us on a bonus insider's tour of his favourite spots. We're looking forward to making art in good company. The average temperatures for that week in Rome: high of 76°F (25°C) and an overnight low of 57°F (14°C)--perfect weather for our sketching workshop! 


Hugo Costa is an Associate professor/lecturer at the Superior Technical Architecture University in Valencia, Spain and he is a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Parsons SCE in NYC, Università degli Studi in Salerno, Sapienza - Università in Rome and Nagoya University. Hugo has taught urban sketching in NYC, Vilnus, Oporto, Clermont Ferrand, Udine, Barcelona, Amsterdam, St. Céré and Valencia. Hugo has won many awards for his sketches and his travel sketch book called Coup de Couer and he has exhibited his art in Europe and the US. Since October 2010 he has been sketching every day in yolahugo



Arrive Wednesday September 27, 2023

Workshop participants who arrive early are invited to meet in the hotel lobby at 2:00 for a warm up sketch (optional) at the Pantheon. Hugo will not be teaching. This is your chance to do a warm up sketch before the first art class. Afterwards...

Hugo's Insider's Tour (optional)--Let's stop in at Sant' Eustachio Il Caffè for a cup of the best coffee in Rome!


In the evening, all workshop participants and nonSketcher Companions are invited to a welcome reception. We will meet at 6pm in the hotel lobby. Below is our proposed itinerary.   

Day 1--the Colosseum, Palatine Hill + the Jewish Ghetto

Thursday September 28, 2023

Today we will visit Palatine Hill, the spot Romulus chose to found the city that would become Rome in 753 BC. From here we will tour the Colosseum, one of the world’s most iconic monuments. We will learn all about the battles, both physical and political, that played out in this incredible amphitheater including feats of ancient engineering that even allowed the Romans to re-enact naval battles here.

After lunch we will walk to the location of Workshop #1 in the Jewish Ghetto.

Hugo's Insider's Tour (optional)--Follow Hugo to Ditta G.Poggi, his favorite art supply store.

Day 2--The Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain + the Spanish Steps

Friday September 29, 2023

You could spend a whole day exploring the archeological ruins of the Roman Forum and the Via Sacra (the Sacred Way). Once a bustling marketplace for commerce and trade, political rallies, military parades, and the sacred ceremonies of the Vestal Virgins. There's so much to sketch! Here among the columns, villas, temples, arches and basilicas, Hugo will teach Workshop #2.  It's sketching heaven!  

After a leisurely lunch we will visit the Trevi Fountain and maybe toss in a euro (using our right hand over our left shoulder) for good luck. This fountain collects 3000€ every day, money that is used to subsidize a super market for Rome's poor.
Then on to the renowned Spanish Steps first proposed by Pope Gregory XIII in the 1580s and featured in films from Roman Holiday to The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Participants are welcome to keep sketching at the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps or take the afternoon off to shop or wander or relax or...




Hugo's Insider's Tour (optional)--Still hungry for more? Follow Hugo to see the Caravaggio paintings at the Piazza del Popolo a short 10 minutes walk away.    

Day 3--Trastevere + Bocca della Verità + the Temple of Hercules Victor

Saturday September 30, 2023

Colorful Trastevere is a funky, bohemian area that clings to its centuries-old, working-class roots. It's known for traditional and innovative trattorias, craft beer pubs and artisan shops, as well as simple B&Bs and budget hotels. From the pre-dinner passeggiata (promenade) until late, a young crowd buzzes around Piazza di San Calisto and Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, the site of a gilded, mosaic-filled church. Here Hugo will teach Workshop #3. 


After lunch we will visit the popular Bocca della Verità (the Mouth of Truth) which, according to enduring medieval legend, will bite off the hand of any liar who places their hand in its mouth. Then we will explore a nearby park on the Tiber River where can be found the Temple of Hercules Victor and the Temple of Portunus, two 3rd or 4th century temples--lots of sketching opportunities if you wish.

Hugo's Insider's Tour (optional)--There is so much to see in Rome! Let's pop over to the Circus Maximus for a quick peek then on to Isola Tiberna on our way back to our hotel.

Day 4--Full day Excursion to Bracciano, a small hilltop village

Sunday October 1, 2023

Today we will travel by private coach to Bracciano, a hilltop village about 45 minutes north of Rome. Here we will explore the winding medieval streets and shops and cafes and tour Orsini-Odescalchi Castle overlooking the pristine volcanic Lake Bracciano.

This castle was built in the 1400s and was home to the powerful Orsini family and then the Odescalchi family. More recently it hosted the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. We will take a tour of the castle and check out its painted beam ceiling, the view from the ramparts, and the medieval kitchens. 

After lunch Hugo will teach Workshop #4 nearby. 

Day 5--Piazza Navona + the Vatican

Monday October 2, 2023

Today we will walk to Piazza Navona where Hugo will teach Workshop #5. This large open space features the Palazzo Pamphili and the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone and three magnificent fountains: the Fountain of the Four Rivers topped with the Obelisk of Domitian; Fontana del Moro; and the Fountain of Neptune. Lots of sketching subjects to choose from!

After lunch we will visit the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum, that features some of the world's most famous paintings and sculptures.

In the evening we will enjoy our farewell dinner.


Tuesday October 3, 2023

It's time to say goodbye but you will never forget the friends you made or the skills you learned during this great week! Or extend your stay for a long relaxing holiday!  


Recommended Workshop Supply List

We will be travelling light carrying only what is necessary as large backpacks or bags are not allowed in some sites such as the Colosseum and the Vatican.
  • A small stool
  • Soft pencils (2b) and 6b (optional) 
  • Fineliner or pen  ( waterproof ink) 
  • Watercolor brushes (number 6 and 12)
  • Watercolors 
  • Watercolor paper or mix media pad or sketchbook . (I prefer landscape format)
  • (Optional) Pentel brush pen grey and black. 


Click HERE for answers to frequently asked questions.

For more information about this vacation package contact Brenda Murray






Tour Includes

  • A welcome reception
  • All art classes
  • Admission to the museums and sites mentioned
  • Full-day coach excursion to Bracciano
  • Farewell dinner

Tour Excludes

  • Flights to/from the area
  • Hotel
  • airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Meals (except those listed above)
  • Painting supplies
  • City taxes payable by guest at check out
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Porterage/luggage handling
  • Travel insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Items not explicitly specified in the inclusion list

Early Bird Prices in USD. Book now before May 1, 2023 and save $200!

$1799. USD    $1599. USD  Workshop Participant

$1100. USD NonSketcher Companion Participant (such as partner or travelling buddy)

NonSketcher Companion tickets include the same attractions and meals as the Workshop Participants with the exception of the art classes.

To reserve your spot in this workshop, a $500 nonrefundable deposit is required for Workshop Participants and a $500 nonrefundable deposit is required for nonSketcher Companions 150 days prior to the start of the workshop. The remaining balance is due 120 days prior to the start of the workshop.

To make a deposit, please scroll to the bottom and click BOOK NOW.


Bring a Friend and Get a Discount

Here's how it works. You and your sketching buddy register for the workshop with your deposits. Then send us an email and tell us you are registering with a sketching buddy. You will each be sent a discount code for $50 that you can apply when you pay the balance of your tickets.

The small print: This discount code cannot be used in conjunction with any other discount code and it can only be applied to 2 Workshop participant tickets if the workshop sells out with 15 participants.


The Artist and the Tour Manager will be staying at the Hotel Colonna Palace Rome Piazza Montecitorio, 12 - 00186, Rome. The room rate starts at 126/night depending on room type with free cancellation up until one week before arrival. Breakfast and VAT is included. 

How to Make a Hotel Reservation

Before you make a hotel reservation, click the red BOOK NOW button below to ensure you have a spot in this workshop.

After you have secured your spot in this workshop, then you can book your room online by clicking HERE.

Note: rooms are NOT being held at the hotel for our group but with free cancellation up to one week before arrival, it is safe to book your room before the workshop is greenlighted. Workshop participants are not obliged to stay in this hotel. You are welcome to stay in another hotel or an Airbnb if you prefer.

If you are travelling alone and wish to share a room, please email and we will try to find a roommate for you among the participants.  

Travel + Medical Insurance

Last minute cancellations for any reason are nonrefundable therefore protect your investment in this vacation by purchasing travel insurance. Click HERE for a list of US travel insurance providers. Some credit card companies may also offer travel insurance if you paid for your trip using that credit card.

Covid-19 Vaccinations

The instructor and tour manager are fully vaccinated against covid-19. This tour will be following all locally recommended protocols. Please check the covid protocols required for Italy by clicking HERE and check back close to the date of departure as the protocols may change. 

Your Tour Manager

Participants will be accompanied by Studio 56 owner, Brenda Murray. Brenda is a Canadian artist and arts advocate, the founder of Urban Sketchers Waterloo Region and a former Urban Sketchers Board member. A seasoned traveler, Brenda has traveled to Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea (resident for 4 years), Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, UK, and the USA (35 states). Brenda will be on hand to assist the instructor and to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Learn more about Brenda HERE. 

For More Information

Email or call Brenda Murray at 519-572-1757.

How to Register for this Workshop

To guarantee your spot in this exciting vacation workshop, participants must pay a deposit by clicking the BOOK NOW button below.