Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, is adored by many – too many. The crowds around some of its churches, statues and pictures are overwhelming. Not on The Oldie tour, though! In the back streets and hidden piazzas of the city lie the works of the great masters – Masaccio, Pontormo and Donatello among them. In the company of The Oldie’s Editor, see Florence as the Florentines see it, its peerless treasures unchanged for centuries – and visit the two splendid palazzi owned by Sir Harold Acton, the last great English aesthete. Stay at the elegant Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci (www.tornabuonihotels.com), occupying two Renaissance palazzi, in one of the city’s most fashionable and historic streets.
Thursday 22nd March
Travel to Florence, BA3279, London City Airport-Florence Peretola, 11.15-14.20
A stroll around Florence’s backwaters, along the south bank of the Arno, through central Firenze, taking in the city’s best ice cream and loveliest wine bar. Evening talk by Harry Mount on Florence and the Renaissance.
Friday 23rd March – Fiesole
The Etruscan hill town, overlooking Florence. Archaeological sites and the Bandini Museum. Lunch in a fine Fiesole restaurant with views of the city. Afternoon visit to Villa La Pietra, Harold Acton’s old house, in the hills, crammed with treasures. Evening drinks at the British Institute.
Saturday 24th March – Central Florence
On foot to Orsanmichele – statues by Donatello, Giambologna and Verrocchio – and on to Palazzo Medici Riccardi – the Medici stronghold, with frescoes by Gozzoli. Then Brunelleschi’s Renaissance gem, the Ospedale degli Innocenti. After lunch, the church and convent of San Marco, with its frescoes and Fra Angelico crucifix.
Sunday 25th March – The south side of the Arno
Cross the Ponte Santa Trinita to see the frescoes of Santa Maria del Carmine. Then on to Pontormo's Deposition in the Capponi Chapel in Santa Felicita. Fabulous views of the city from the Bardini gardens. After lunch, optional climb to Oscar Wilde’s favourite church, San Miniato al Monte.
Monday 26 March – The Tuscan countryside
The Antinori winery – half-spaceship, half-cathedral, buried in the vine-covered slopes of the Val di Pesa at Bargino. On to the hill-town of Panzano for lunch at Dario Cecchini’s extraordinary butcher’s-turned-restaurant, a Tuscan institution.
Tuesday 27th March
Free morning for shopping or a visit to the Palazzo Strozzi, for its Renaissance exhibition. Snack lunch before departure.
BA 3280 departs Florence Peretola 15.00, arrives LCY 16.10.
Do book with Katherine to guarantee a place on firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone 01225 427311.
PRICE PER PERSON: £1,450 for those sharing a double/twin room, including everything apart from flights and drinks before and after lunch and dinner. We need to charge a single supplement of £200. She will require a non-refundable deposit of £500. Final payment will be due by 15th December 2017.