Hot New Walks for 2011

As we begin 2011, the staff and docents at Context have been busy putting together some new and exciting walks and seminars across all of our cities.  From hands on creative workshops to thematic visits, let’s take a minute to see what our Hot New Walks are for 2011.  Whether a repeat visitor or first time adventurer, these selection should whet your appetites for the upcoming trip you may be planning.


From learning about the history of Jazz in Paris to exploring the history behind Context’s newest city, Berlin, there is something for everyone this coming year.


Garibaldi, Risorgimento, and the Birth of Italy

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, Context has created this historic walk that focuses on a pivotal time in Italian history.  Crossing the historic center, Trastevere, and ending on the Janiculum Hill, our scholars will use the city to teach us about the politics behind the Unification, the climate in Rome, and the struggle to bring this formerly Papal ruled state into the Italian fold.


Science and Humanism

Taking advantage of the newly restored Museo Galileo, this thematic, three-hour walk traces the explosion of scientific progress and the rise of humanism during the rule of the Medici family in Renaissance-era Florence.   Our encounter with Galileo will shed some light on the Medicean systems of patronage, and on the way in which scientists shaped their own image inside a court, making this an interesting lens through which to view the city and its history.


Mosaic Workshop

Our newest offering in Naples is a hands on workshop in the studio of our mosaic artist.  The studio is located near Salerno, but arrangements can be made for on site workshops depending on the location and facilities of your hotel. Each party will create their own mosaic that can then be taken away as a souvenir of the event.  Wonderful for adults and families alike!


Casanova’s Venice

This three-hour walk brings you inside the golden age of Venice during the 18th century.  We’ll spend time exploring a museum of the 18th century, where paintings by Longhi, Canaletto, and Tiepolo will help illustrate this riotous time period.  We’ll then strike out into the city and use the urban fabric to weave a tale of the 18th century, whose protagonist was Giacomo Casanova, a man whose glamorous exploits (especially of the amorous type) became legends in his own time.


Le Jazz Hot, an American Art Form in Paris

On this two-hour walk through the Saint Germain and Latin Quarter, we will explore the magic and the history of Jazz in Paris, accompanied by a Jazz musician or singer and visiting some of its former haunts and finishing off by discovering the current scene at a live concert. With its hunger for new ideas and lack of racial segregation, post-war Paris was the perfect venue to introduce Europe to the new American sound. Musicians flocked to the city and several were so taken by the vibrant and supportive atmosphere that they expatriated permanently.


Jewish London

Our Jewish London walking seminar weaves a tale of the history of the Jewish community in London, giving visitors a distinct sense of its rich cultural and history. Spanning a wide time span, our docent, an expert in Jewish history, will provide you with a deeper sense of how these communities developed, from their initial inception in 1066 and subsequent flourishing in the 17th century through their trials during WWII and triumphs in modern London.


Civil War and Madrid Under Franco

In 1931, the Spanish monarchy came to an end and a representative democracy was created. It was short lived. Partisan conflict between socialists on the left and corporatists on the right led, within a few years, to Civil War. Led by general Francisco Franco, the rightists eventually overwhelmed the Republicans and instituted a military dictatorship, which ruled Spain until the 1970s. During this three-hour tour of Madrid, we will look at the events of the 1930s and trace Spanish politics from Civil War through Fascism.


Walking the Wall

Led by a 20th century historian, this three-hour walk unravels the complex social, cultural and political history of the Berlin Wall by tracing a section of its former route through the city’s center. In doing so, we will investigate the Post-war background of the Wall’s construction, the physical realities of life in the city that it divided, and the implications of its fall for a reunified Berlin. Our main goal will be to understand the Wall for what it was: not merely a concrete barrier but also a controlled series of empty spaces and activities (searches, patrols, observations and checkpoints) that came to signify all the consequences of the division of Berlin and of Europe.


Galata Nights

This 3-hour evening tour of Istanbul explores city’s vibrant port culture where the Genoese, Byzantine, Russian, Ottoman, and Turkish Republic past resonate in present-day Istanbul. Strolling from the banks of Karaköy to Pera Palace Hotel, we’ll look at the role of commerce, trade, crime, entertainment, and refuge on the history and development of these districts regarded for its mixed religious, ethnic, and port populations. And we’ll do it at dusk, a particularly beautiful time in the city, where a pinkish hue combines with the sound of seagulls and swallows in circular flight, as well as marking a distinct shift in how to think about a city from the bustle of daily business to the leisure and potential intrigues of night activities — making this a perfect way to begin your experience in Istanbul.


Daily Life in Ancient Athens

The birthplace of democracy, and standard bearer for classical art, literature, and philosophy, Athens is widely considered the touchstone of Western civilization. During this three-hour walk of the Agora, Keramikos, Roman Agora, and other sites in Plaka and Monastiraki, we will look at the social, political, and economic underpinnings of Greek accomplishments and explore aspects of daily life in ancient Athens.

North America

Our burgeoning North American cities offer some new and exciting visits to help you explore the foundations of American history and culture.

New York

Soho and the Cast Iron District

Since the 19th century, the neighborhood of SoHo (south of Houston) has housed the city’s upper class, its first red light district, luxury textile industries, some of the country’s most influential Modernist artists, and today, an array of hip, cutting edge boutiques and galleries.  Probably the most prominent visible remnant of SoHo’s early bygone era is its stunning collection of cast iron architecture. This three hour walking tour in the company of a practicing architect or architectural historian uses these buildings and their various iterations as a textbook for examining the neighborhood’s rich two hundred year history as a creative and trendsetting catalyst in New York City.


Ars Medicina: The History of Medicine in Philadelphia

As Philadelphia grew through the late 18th century and into the 19th century, it became the center of intellectual life as well as medical innovation in the United States. This three-hour walk examines the prominent medical tradition of Philadelphia, from the founding of the first hospital in the colonies by Benjamin Franklin in 1751 to the establishment of Pennsylvania Hospital, including the nation’s oldest professional organization—the College of Physicians of Philadelphia—and its museum of medical oddities.


Black Boston: Freedom in the Empire and the Republic

This three-hour walking tour of Boston examines African American history in the city. Tracing an arc from the North End to Beacon Hill, and from the arrival of the first Africans in 1638 through their fights for freedom and civil rights, this walk paints a vivid portrait of Boston’s centrality to the African American experience. Public education, religious freedom, community organization, Abolition, and war are all consistent themes that we’ll explore as we travel through more than two centuries of Boston’s history together, from the arrival of Africans in Boston and the departure of the Massachusetts 54th Infantry Regiment in 1863.