|8 days and 7 nights|
Italy (Florence, Lucca, Siena, Poggio A Caiano, Sansepolcro, Arezzo, Pienza, Montepulciano)
Italy (Rome, Florence, Pisa)
Day 1 Florence
Arrival in Firenze, the cradle of the Renaissance. Check-in at the hotel, then we will have a guided tour of Florence covering some of the city’s rich history as we pass famous landmarks like the beautiful Piazza della Signoria, the Duomo, Giotto’s breath-taking campanile, the Baptistery, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Santa Croce and more. Dinner and overnight stay in Florence.
Day 2 Florence: Uffizi Gallery, Vasarian Corridor
Today you can admire some of the finest examples of Renaissance art at the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous art museums in the world, hosting invaluable works of art. Following a chronological sequence from Cimabue to Masaccio and Piero della Francesca we reach the Botticelli Room where the “Birth of Venus” and the “Allegory of Spring” are the symbol of sublime beauty. We will continue our visit through the drawing skills of Leonardo, the Michelangelo Room, Raphael’s magnificent portraits ending up with the glorious “Venus of Urbino” by Tiziano. At this point we head to the Corridor, the amazing tunnel which we have been able to see from the outside, walking between Piazza Pitti and Piazza della Signoria. The corridor, a kilometre in length, offering breath-taking views over the Arno River, boasts a superb collection of paintings, including artists’ self-portraits from Vasari to the artists of the 20th century. Exiting of the Vasari Corridor in the enchanting Boboli Gardens, you will admire Buontalenti’s Grotto. The rest of the day is at your leisure. Visit other important sites like the Accademia Gallery to see some of Michelangelo’s works including the famous statue of David, the Bargello museum, or the Pitti Palace. Florence is not only a beautiful art city, but it is also a great place to indulge in a spot of shopping, so see if you can pick up a bargain among the side streets and markets. Dinner and overnight stay in Florence.
Day 3 Lucca, Vinci
The elegant city of Lucca seems one of Tuscany’s best kept secrets, hidden by a massive well-preserved Renaissance wall wide enough to hold small parks and a pedestrian path along the top. We will enjoy a walk through the Lucca’s ancient squares and alleys with elegant shops, Renaissance and Baroque buildings. Of course we will see the Cathedral, the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro and the Piazza Napoleone and we will climb the Guinigi Tower which has an ancient oak tree growing on top. In the afternoon we will head to a small medieval town perched on top of mountain among Tuscan hills: Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, symbol of the Renaissance, and whose name is inextricably linked to many places in Tuscany. The castle of the Conti Guidi houses a museum dedicated to the memory of Leonardo that displays a collection of all kinds of machines and prototypes, all created according to the original designs of Leonardo. Leaving Leonardo behind for a moment - not always easy here – we will explore also the traditional village beyond the castle and museum. Its historical centre exudes a characteristic medieval atmosphere. Nearby, amidst the olive groves, is situated the house believed to be Leonardo's birthplace. Dinner and overnight stay in Florence.
Day 4 Medici Villas: Poggio a Caiano, Villa du Castello, La Petraia
The history of Tuscany is also the history of the Medici Family: politicians, royals, popes, patrons of the arts, they were champions of the birth of the Italian Renaissance. The Medici ruled the territory of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany almost continuously until 1737 and they left beautiful traces of their passage, like the Medici Villas, an outstanding expression of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. We will visit the Villa Poggio a Caiano, an example of early Renaissance architecture that conserved noteworthy frescos of some of the most important Florentine paintings of the 16th century. The Villa Castello, country residence of Cosimo I, presents a simple and geometric design with Renaissance windows, Tuscan lodges and pillars. We will visit only its splendid Italian garden, one of the first Italian gardens in history, created by Niccolò Tribolo, before he moved to Florence to design the Boboli Gardens. Our last stop is to the Villa Petraia, one of the most attractive of the Medici villas for its position in the Tuscan landscape, for its fine pictorial decoration and for the beauty of its garden. It has always been used as a residence, hosting illustrious personalities of the Medici family, the Lorraines and the Savoys. We will visit the villa that still contains the original furniture and the enchanting park outside. Dinner and overnight stay in Florence.
Day 5 Siena
We will travel through the Tuscan countryside to reach the historic city of Siena, built on the hills in the middle of the pilgrimage road Via Francigena. Our guide will lead you through the city’s history and local culture strolling the streets lined with medieval and Renaisssance palaces to the Piazza del Campo, unusually formed in a half-moon shape, where the famous Palio horse race is held twice a year. We will visit the outstanding cathedral, one of Italy’s greatest, a masterpiece of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Built in black and white marble it has fine and intricate carvings by Giovanni Pisano and boasts works by Donatello, Pinturicchio, Bernini, Michelangelo and others. During the afternoon you are free to explore as you wish the town, or just enjoy a coffee in the main square watching the world go by. Dinner and overnight stay in Arezzo.
Day 6 Sansepolcro, Monterchi, Arezzo
In the afternoon we continue to Sansepolcro, famous as the town of Piero della Francesca, an early and influential Renaissance artist who was born and spent much of his life here. We will visit the Civic Museum to admire two very well-known paintings by Piero della Francesca: “Resurrection of Christ” and the “Madonna Della Misericordia”. We will stroll then around the charming town centre admiring the historic buildings and to visit the Cathedral boasting some extraordinary works by artists such as Perugino. Our next stop is the hamlet of Monterchi to admire Piero’s “Madonna del Parto”, one of the earliest depictions of a pregnant madonna and perhaps a memorial to Piero’s mother, who was born in the village. We return to the medieval walled town Arezzo to discover fascinating places rich in art and history and to visit the famous Church of San Francesco, where is shown an extraordinary collection of paintings considered as the maximum expression of Renaissance Italian painting: “The Legend of the True Cross” and “Madonna della Misericordia” by Piero della Francesca. We will admire also the Church of San Domenico housing a Crucifix by Cimabue, the Pieve Santa Maria Assunta, the Cathedral, the church of San Donato. The Piazza Grande bordered by Vasari's loggia is nothing short of a masterpiece and without doubt must be one of Europe’s most stunning. You will have some free time to explore this lovely town as you wish, absorbing its astonishing charm. Dinner and overnight stay in Arezzo.
Day 7 Pienza, Montepulciano
Today we travel through the stunning Orcia Valley with undulating hillsides, isolated farmhouses surrounded by tall cypress trees and green, ochre and yellow coloured valleys, made famous by Van Gogh’s paintings. We will visit the elegant town of Pienza, an architectural masterpiece, birthplace of Pope Pius II who ordered the town to be redesigned following the Renaissance principles of the „ideal city”. The construction of Pienza began in 1459; architect Bernardo Rossellino worked on its main sites under the guide of Leon Battista Alberti, the great theorist of Renaissance art, building and town planning. We will visit the cathedral and the main square and will wander through the lovely streets of Pienza with suggestive romantic names: Via dell’Amore, Via del Bacio, and Via della Fortuna. You will have enough free time to visit the Pope Palace or enjoy classic dishes of Tuscan culinary tradition. We continue to Montepulciano, one of the highest of walled Tuscan hill towns, with Renaissance palaces and churches, odd little corners to discover and artisan shops. Montepulciano is famous for its beauty, but also for its wine. The “Nobile di Montepulciano” became the symbol of its ancient oenological tradition. Wine tasting at a local wine producer with a historical wine cellar is planned. You will have time on your own to explore the town. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Arezzo.
Day 8 Arezzo
After breakfast departure for return journey and end of our services.
Accommodation, depending on your option, in good 4* hotels centrally located or 3* not centrally located hotels, double occupancy rooms, as described:
4 night accommodation in hotel in Florence on a half-board basis, drinks not included
3 night accommodation in Arezzo on half-board basis, drinks not included
Local English speaking guides in Firenze, Lucca, Arezzo, Pienza, Siena. Other languages are available on request.
Guided tour Uffizzi & Corridoio Vasariano in Florence
Entrances to the Cathedral in Siena, Medici Villas (Poggio a Caiano, Villa du Castello, La Petraia), Cathedral & Civic Museum in Sansepolcro, Museum Leonardo da Vinci, Museo della Madonna del Parto in Monterchi, Church of San Francesco & Church of San Domenico in Arezzo, Cathedral in Pienza
Wine tasting session at Montepulciano
Bus GT for the entire tour with arrival and departure from Rome / Pisa / Florence airport, including all expenses (check point and parking fees, board and lodging for driver)