The dawning of the Renaissance began in Florence and soon spread to other city states in the north of Italy, each ruled by an immensely wealthy family who were able to sponsor artists, musicians and architects to display their power and influence. The Medici in Florence led the way, funding the works of Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo da Vinci. Others followed but none would ever surpass the legacy of the Medici. Our spring itinerary in the company of art expert Charlie Hall, will introduce you to the works of a litany of great artists and help you to put them and their achievements into context – and we shall also make excursions into the surrounding Tuscan countryside and nearby mediaeval Siena. Our base will be the Villa Fiesole (www.villafiesolehotel.com)(pictured below), a charming 4 star hotel, set in the hills overlooking Florence.
Charlie Hall runs the famous John Hall course, as featured in The Oldie, and knows the city and region backwards.
Day 1 - Arrival
Depart from Heathrow with BA at 8.35am; arrive at Pisa at 11.45am. Transfer to the Villa Fiesole. Dinner at the hotel this evening.
Day 2 - Uffizi Gallery (pictured below)
Our first visit will be to the Uffizi Gallery where we see paintings by every great Florentine artist as well as works by international artists. After lunch in one of our favourite restaurants we will see the Church of Santa Maria Novella, on the piazza of the same name, followed by the Dominican church with works by Ghirlandaio and Masaccio. Dinner is included this evening in the city centre at our popular restaurant, I Latini.
Day 3 – The Bargello
Today is the turn of the Bargello where the great sculptures of Florence are displayed – Michelangelo, Donatello and many more are represented here. In the afternoon we visit the Laurentian Library, which was designed by Michelangelo, and the Medici Chapel, also by Michelangelo, where we see the family tombs of Florence’s most powerful dynasty. We will dine at a local restaurant in Fiesole, just a short walk from our hotel.
Day 4 - Siena
We will spend the day in the neighbouring city of Siena, once a great rival of Florence, and today one of the best-preserved mediaeval cities in Italy. We will visit the Duomo and the unusual bowl-shaped Piazza del Campo, setting for the famous Palio horse race, and the Palazzo Pubblico to view the superb frescoes of The Allegories of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. After lunch at a local restaurant, we will return to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon and evening.
Day 5 – Santa Croce, Florence
The Franciscan Church of Santa Croce is our first stop this morning, its rich and ornate sculptures, altarpieces and frescoes indicating that this was the chosen burial place of the rich and famous. We continue to the 11th century church of Santa Trinita to see the wonderful frescoes by Ghirlandaio and the jewel-like chapel of Bartolini-Salimbeni painted by Lorenzo Monaco in the 1420’s. Our day will end with a visit to the Brancacci Chapel with its frescoes by Masaccio and dinner will be at one of our favourite restaurants in the centre of Florence.
Day 6 – The Accademia
We visit the Accademia where we see Michelangelo’s David and the frescoes by Fra Angelico in the Friary of San Marco. Passing by the extraordinary ‘Duomo’, capped by Brunelleschi’s massive dome we will visit the newly-restored baptistery. We will also visit the adjacent Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo, which houses many of the original sculptures created for the cathedral, bell tower and Baptistery – including Lorenzo Ghiberti’s ‘Gates of Paradise’. Lunch will be at a local restaurant in Siena and we will return to the hotel for dinner.
Day 7 – A day in the country
Today we will travel into the countryside outside Florence to the 14th century monastery at Galluzzo. After a tour of the monastery including magnificent frescoes by Pontormo, we will enjoy a coffee or liqueur from the monks’ distillery. Lunch will be in the historic Trattoria Bibe before we continue to a vineyard in the Chianti hills for a wine-tasting. We will have dinner together at the hotel this evening.
Day 8 – Pisa and Return
After a day in Pisa to admire the Baptistry and the famous Leaning Tower (pictured above), we will catch the 6.05pm BA flight arriving at 7.30pm at Heathrow.
Price from £2,457 per person including flights, accommodation, all transport, breakfast, all lunches and dinners with wine, all entrance fees and the tour rep. Single supplement: £446. Deposit: £300.
To book: call Patrick on 020 7593 2281 or email firstname.lastname@example.org