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Florence: Cradle of the Renaissance Itinerary

Day 1 Depart from North America
  • Relax and enjoy our scheduled flight from North America. Our 24-hour Tour Director will meet us at the airport and remain with us until our final airport departure.
Day 2 Florence
  • Florence Florence is so deeply connected to the Renaissance movement in art and literature that it is often called the “Cradle of the Renaissance.” A walk through the peaceful piazzas reveals the architecture and sculpture that have made this beautiful city one of the world’s greatest artistic capitals.
  • Piazzale Michelangelo Stop just outside Florence and explore the Piazzale Michelangelo. Offering a splendid panoramic view of the city's domes and towers, this is a great location to take photos and view some of the local artists at work.
Day 3 Florence
  • San Miniato al Monte Discover San Miniato al Monte, set high atop a hill with a gleaming white-and-green facade visible from the valley below. San Miniato is one of the few ancient churches of Florence to survive the centuries virtually intact. The current building began to take shape in 1013 under the auspices of the powerful Arte di Calimala guild, whose symbol, a bronze eagle clutching a bale of wool, perches atop the facade.
  • LEAP: Patron of the Renaissance Investigate the qualities that a patron in Renaissance Italy might consider when he or she was commissioning a painting; the size of the work, materials & colors, subject matter etc. Understand the role of patrons in Renaissance times as well as the difficult decision-making process that they faced.
  • Church of Santa Maria del Carmine See the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, highlighted by the magnificent Cappella Brancacci, which contains frescoes by Masacchio on the Life of St. Peter.
  • Church of Santa Maria Novella Visit the church of Santa Maria Novella, one of Florence’s most distinguished churches. Begun in 278 AD for the Dominicans, the highlight of the interior is a Masaccio’s masterpiece Trinità, a curious work that has the architectural form of a Renaissance stage setting, but whose figures, in the first perfect perspective, are like actors in a Greek tragedy.
Day 4 Florence
  • San Marco Visit San Marco, a former medieval monastery converted into a new home for the Dominicans by Cosimo de’ Medici il Vecchio, grandfather of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The monastery’s most famous member was the early Renaissance painter Fra Angelico, who left behind many of his finest works. Our tour will include the Fra Angelico Gallery, full of altarpieces and painted panels; the Sala del Capitolo, frescoed by Fra Angelico and his assistants with a huge Crucifixion; the Sala del Cenacolo, with a long fresco of the Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio; the Dormitorio of cells where the monks lived, featuring one of Fra Angelico’s masterpieces and perhaps his most famous cycle of frescoes; and the Biblioteca, which contains beautifully illuminated choir books.
  • Palazzo Medici-Riccardi Visit the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, home of the Medici family for over 100 years, and the model for many other Renaissance palaces. The highlight of our visit will be the beautiful Cappella dei Magi, featuring richly colored frescoes showing the Journey of the Magi.
  • San Lorenzo Tour San Lorenzo. Founded in the 4th century, this is the city's second most important church. At one point in its long history, San Lorenzo became the church of the Medicis. Our visit will include the Medici Chapels. Michelangelo built the New Sacristy between 1520 and 1533 as a monument to Lorenzo the Magnificent and his generation of peaceful Medicis. We will also visit the Biblioteca Laurenziana, one of the world’s most important collections of Italian manuscripts.
  • Museo Nazionale del Bargello Visit the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence’s premier sculpture museum, housing works by Michelangelo and Donatello. Highlights will include Michelangelo’s Bacchus, the Pitti Tondo, the Apollo-David, and the bust of Brutus. Donatello's Cupid, marble David, and bronze David are also in this museum.
Day 5 Day Trip to Lucca & Pisa
  • Lucca Lucca’s peaceful narrow lanes wind among medieval buildings, churches, tiny piazzas, and Roman ruins, taking visitors on a true journey through the town’s long history. Founded as a Roman colony in 180 BC, the city center was shut off from traffic in the 17th century, making it a pleasant place to wander and explore.
  • Old Town Take a Walking Tour through the old town to view the Renaissance and Gothic palaces, and the Piazza del Anfiteatro, where the amphitheater once stood.
  • San Martino Visit San Martino, Lucca's magnificent cathedral, and admire the magnificent green and white marble facade, as well as the Romanesque and Gothic interior.
  • San Michele Spend time in San Michele in Foro, a beautiful church with a rich mixture of twisted marble columns and mosaics on the Pisan-Romanesque facade. A highlight of the interior is Saint's Helena, Jerome, Sebastian, and Roch, by Lippi. As a student of Botticelli, Lippi’'s work reflects his master'’s graceful style, though with a more humanistic approach. Music lovers will note that two generations of Puccinis played organ in this church.
  • Pisa During the Middle Ages, Pisa's powerful navy and strong trading position brought enormous wealth to the city. Following several conquests and the silting of the harbor, however, it fell into decline. Now Pisa is primarily visited for its interesting architecture.
  • Piazza del Duomo View the breathtaking Piazza del Duomo. Known in Italy as the “Field of Miracles,” the piazza contains the beautiful cathedral and baptistry, and the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. Despite its sinking foundations, the tower stands as magnificently today as it did upon completion in 1350.
Day 6 Day Trip to Siena & Arezzo
  • Siena Once a capital to rival Florence, Siena is Italy's prettiest medieval town, and still possesses the grandeur of the age when it was at its peak.
  • Duomo Visit the Duomo, highlighted by distinctive striped marble columns. Our visit will include the beautiful Piccolomini Library, designed to house the cathedral’s collection of illuminated manuscripts. The magnificent room features an unrivaled ceiling and large frescoes depicting important events in the life of Pope Pius II.
  • Piazza del Campo Stroll through the narrow and winding streets of Siena to the Piazza del Campo, a vast and lively square in the heart of the city.
  • Museo Civico Visit the Museo Civico at the Palazzo Pubblico, the focal point of the Piazza del Campo. The museum houses a series of grand halls frescoed with themes integral to the secular life of the medieval city. It includes one of the most well known allegories in the world: the 'Allegory of Good and Bad Government' by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. In 1337 the government asked Lorenzetti to decorate the room with a fresco that represented the ideals that guided the city and its governors, resulting in the first allegoric fresco cycle that had a civil subject and not a religious one.
  • Arezzo Arezzo is one of Tuscany's wealthiest cities. This is primarily attributed to it's thriving jewelry industry, but also because it is a hub of agricultural trade in Italy. Although the medieval heart of the city was destroyed in WWII bombings, Arezzo has managed to preserve some of its most beautiful sights.
Day 7 Florence
  • Accademia Gallery Visit the Accademia Gallery, where we will view Michelangelo's statuary masterpiece, David, and Boticelli’'s Madonna and Child.
  • Piazza del Duomo Enjoy the Piazza del Duomo, where the cathedral, tower, and baptistery exhibit the traditions of Florentine art from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. We will observe the massive and detailed facade of the Duomo before viewing the baptistery's bronze doors, designed by Ghiberti and about which Michelangelo commented were worthy of being the “Gates of Paradise.” After a brief visit inside the Duomo, we will have the opportunity to do one of the following: ascend the Bell Tower; climb the narrow steps to the top of the Red Dome; or visit the spectacular interior of the Baptistery. (One admission included).
  • Museo dell'Opera del Duomo Take a tour of the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, a museum housing sculptures removed from the niches and doors of the Duomo for restoration and preservation out of the elements. Highlights of our visit will include the enclosed courtyard that houses Lorenzo Ghiberti’s original gilded bronze panels from the “Gates of Paradise”; Michelangelo's Pietà, his second and penultimate take on the subject; and Donatello's fascinating sculpture of The Magdalene, a late work in polychrome wood veritably dripping with penitence.
  • Church of Santa Croce Stop for a brief visit to the Church of Santa Croce, featuring the impressive tombs of many of Florence's most influential figures, including Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante, and Galileo.
Day 8 Florence
  • Piazza della Signoria Spend time in the Piazza della Signoria, the political stage of Renaissance Florence and an open-air museum of sculpture.
  • Uffizi Museum Experience the Uffizi Museum, one of Italy's finest art museums, containing one of the most famous collections of paintings and sculptures in the world. Exhibitions include works by most of the acclaimed Italian artists, as well as German, Dutch, and Flemish masters. Of particular note are European paintings from the 13th to 18th centuries, which include works by da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Rembrandt and Rubens.
  • Ponte Vecchio Stroll along the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest of Florence's six bridges and one of the best-loved sites of Florence. Lined with numerous shops, visitors often do not realize they are on a bridge until they reach the center arches that look out over the Arno.
  • Pitti Palace Tour the massive Pitti Palace, a primarily Renaissance building that contains several important museums, including one that features reconstructions of period rooms, and the Palatine Gallery with important works by Titian, Rubens, and Raphael.
  • LEAP: The Great Renaissance Debate The Renaissance is packed with great minds who have shaped our world today. Discover and argue with your fellow group members the merits of key players in the Renaissance and eventually determine who is the greatest Renaissance man or woman.
  • Boboli Gardens Visit the beautiful Boboli Gardens. Situated behind the Pitti Palace, the gardens were originally designed for the Medici and are one of the earliest examples of the Italian Garden, which later inspired those of many European courts.
Day 9 Departure from Florence
  • Our rewarding and enjoyable tour comes to an end as our Tour Director accompanies us to the airport on our final day.