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Renaissance & Baroque Italy 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 Milan - Bologna
  • Milan More chic than traditionally beautiful, the bustling city of Milan is a center of fashion, business, and finance. For centuries, it has been an important trading center and a prize for powerful dynasties. Today, it is the best place to experience cosmopolitan Italy.
  • Piazza del Duomo and Duomo Spend time in central Milan’s Piazza del Duomo and visit the unique and beautiful Gothic Duomo. The cathedral is easily recognizable because of its unusual roofline, consisting of 135 spires and numerous statues and gargoyles. We will view the cathedral’s beautifully crafted stained glass windows, the treasury, and the remains of the original 4th century baptistry.
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie Visit Santa Maria delle Grazie to view, among other works, da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
  • Bologna Bologna is one of Italy's great historic cities. It was founded by the Etruscans and experienced a rebirth and constant growth from the medieval period to the present day. Home of the oldest university in the Western World, Bologna is also the birthplace of some of Italy's most well known food traditions.
Day 3 Bologna - Florence
  • Via Strada Maggiore Stroll down what must be the most architecturally elegant street in Bologna, Via Strada Maggiore. Stop to visit the Basilica of San Petronio, named after the city’s patron saint. This vast basilica is Bologna’s largest church. It was originally intended to be even larger, until church authorities diverted funds prior to its completion. There are 22 art-filled chapels we may visit, but the frescoes depicting heaven and hell in the Cappela Bolognini are particularly interesting.
  • Florence We continue on our journey from Bologna to 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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.
  • 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 which Michelangelo commented were worthy to be 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 dell Duomo Take a tour of the Museo dell'Opera dell 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.
Day 5 Day Trip to Lucca & Poggio a Caiano
  • 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.
  • 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 in Foro 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 Saints 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.
  • Walking Tour of 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.
  • Poggio a Caiano Visit Poggio a Caiano, the Italian sister city of Charlottesville, Virginia. These two cities have a relationship dating from the American Revolution when Thomas Jefferson and Poggio A Caiano native Filippo Mazzei began what would become a close friendship. Mazzei advocated the ideals and institutions of the burgeoning American Republic both here and abroad
  • Villa di Poggio a Caiano Travel to the Villa di Poggio a Caiano. Built for Lorenzo de’ Medici, it is the first Italian villa to be constructed in the Renaissance style. We will explore the villa, the gardens, and surrounding parkland, and see the barrel-vaulted salone with its beautiful frescoes.
Day 6 Florence
  • Accademia Gallery Visit the Accademia Gallery, where we will view Michelangelo’s statuary masterpiece, David, and Boticelli’s Madonna and Child.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
Day 7 Florence - Siena - Rome
  • Siena Today we will travel from Florence to Rome. En route we will stop in 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.
  • Rome Known to many as the "Eternal City," Rome is the capital of Italy, with an uninterrupted history spanning two and a half thousand years. As one of the founding cities of western civilization, Rome is filled with incredible historical sites. It is a city with many faces, encompassing medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and modern.
  • This evening, dinner will be provided in a local restaurant.
Day 8 Rome (focus on Michaelangelo & Raphael)
  • Vatican Museums Experience a specialist-guided tour of the Vatican Museums, home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of art. Our tour includes the map tapestry rooms, the magnificent Raphael Rooms, and the spectacular Sistine Chapel, highlighted by Michelangelo’s ceiling and his Last Judgment. We will continue into St. Peter’s Square to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the western world and the center of Catholicism. Highlights of our visit include Michelangelo’s Pieta and Bernini’s magnificent Baldacchino Over the High Altar.
  • Piazza Navona We will spend some time in the Piazza Navona area. Built on the foundations of Domitian's Circus, this magnificent square was designed by Borromini in 17th century. It is full of life and is highlighted by one of Rome's most spectacular fountains, the Four Rivers designed by Bernini. The square is often filled with local artists. The surrounding neighborhood is also one of the best places in Rome to get a tasty tartufo or gelato ice cream.
  • Pantheon Visit the Pantheon, one of the grandest and best-preserved Roman monuments, and the oldest large-scale dome in Rome. The Pantheon has been in continuous use throughout its history and today houses many tombs, including those of Italian kings Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I, and painters Caracci and Raphael.
  • This evening, dinner will be provided in a local restaurant.
Day 9 Rome (focus on Bernini & Caravaggio)
  • Church of Santa Maria della Vitoria Visit the Church of Santa Maria della Vitoria, highlighted by the Cornaro Chapel, featuring Bernini’s The Ecstasy of St. Teresa.
  • Museo Borghese Visit the Museo Borghese, located in the Borghese Palace. This museum features an impressive collection that includes sculptures by Bernini, such as Apollo and Daphne, and masterpieces by 16th and 17th century Italian artists, such as Raphael, Correggio, Titian, and Caravaggio.
  • Piazza del Popolo and Church of Santa Maria del Popolo View the Piazza del Popolo en route to see the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. The highlight of this magnificent church is the Chigi Chapel, begun by Raphael and completed by Bernini. We will also view Caravaggio’s two works in the Cerasi Chapel, the Crucifixion of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul.
  • Church of San Luigi dei Francesi Stop in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi to see the Contarelli Chapel, featuring 3 paintings by Caravaggio based on scenes from the life of St. Matthew.
  • Dine near Trevi Fountain and visit Piazza di Spagna This evening we will dine near the spectacular Trevi Fountain where it is traditional to toss a coin into the fountain to ensure a safe return to The Eternal City. Spend time at Rome’s meeting place, the Piazza di Spagna, home of the famous Spanish Steps. The piazza and steps are both named in reference to a 16th century Spanish ambassador who lived here. English poet John Keats lived and died in the house to the right of the steps, which is now a memorial.
Day 10 Departure from Rome
  • Our rewarding and enjoyable tour comes to an end as our Tour Director accompanies us to the airport on our final day.