Classical Florence

Florence is the Italian city most celebrated by artists and poets, and the town which more than any other tells the history of proud people.

Its historical events gave Florence unique features and each street, palace and building is living evidence of its magnificent past.

You will depart to Florence with your tour leader, by AC deluxe coach.

Once in town, you will begin your walking tour with a knowledgeable local guide.

You will start from the Piazza del Duomo, where you will visit the huge Cathedral (inside visit), called St. Mary of the Flower, with an impressive façade decorated in white, green and pink Tuscan marble; the Baptistery (outside visit only), famous for Lorenzo Ghiberti’s celebrated doors, called the “Gate of Paradise” commissioned in 1401; the Bell Tower (outside visit only), designed in 1334 by Giotto.

Piazza della Signoria will be the following step. It is the second Florence’s major Piazza and the political centre of the town because of the city hall (Palazzo Vecchio). It is also called an open-air museum thanks to the many statues, among which Cellini’s “Perseus”, Giambologna’s “The Rape of the Sabine Women”, Ammannati’s “Neptune Fountain” and a copy of the famous “David” by Michelangelo.

You will proceed then to the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), dating back to 1345, the only bridge in Florence to escape being blown up during World War II. Originally it housed the workshops of the butchers; then the Grand Duke, Ferdinando I, sent them away because of the terrible noise and stench they created. It was so open only to goldsmiths and silversmiths that still today have got their shops on it.

You will then have the chance to visit the eastern quarter of Santa Croce.

The Piazza di Santa Croce is a large square dominated by the Franciscan Basilica (inside visit) that at various times has been worked on by a star-studded cast of Florentine architects and masters, from Brunelleschi to Vasari and Giotto to Donatello. Piazza Santa Croce plays host to the Calcio in Costume – historical football – each summer in which the hefty men of the four quarters of Florence battle it out in an ancient mix of wrestling and soccer, cheered on by residents and visitors alike. For most of the year however the square is a peaceful open space, surrounded by stately palazzi and intimate pizzerias and restaurants.

After the guided tour you will have some time for having lunch on your own and do some shopping.

On the way back to the pier you will drive by Piazzale Michelangelo, a lovely terrace overlooking Florence, from where you have the best view of the rooftops of the city.


Florence and Accademia Gallery

Florence is known all over the world as the city of art, the capital of the Renaissance and one of the most important centers of literary and scientific culture.

You will depart by coach escorted by a knowledgeable tour leader and you will meet the local guide on site, once arrived in Florence.

You will begin your guided tour of the centre from the Galleria dell’Accademia, which houses the masterpiece of Michelangelo: David.

David was commissioned in 1501 by the Cathedral Works Committee (Opera Del Duomo). At the age of 26, Michelangelo was given a leftover block of marble that came from the mountains of Carrara, one which had previously been worked on by various other artists. The piece was intended as a monumental work, a testimony to the city’s republican pride, not one for close confinement, but was moved to the Accademia in 1873 (from outside the Palazzo Vecchio, where a replica now stands) to protect it from the ravages of time and the weather.

The following step will be Piazza del Duomo,

The Florence Duomo is dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore and is typical of Italian Gothic architecture. The present building was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, one of the greatest architect- sculptors of his age. This was finished in around 1367 and was completely covered with coloured marbles like the earlier Baptistery, although the uncompleted facade was given its covering in the nineteenth century. Completed in 1436, the Cupola is the most characteristic feature of the Florentine skyline, symbolizing a great cultural tradition and the city’s civic awareness.

It will then be time to visit Piazza della Signoria, which has been the political heart of the city from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Its gets its name of course from the most important monument there, Palazzo della Signoria.

The square however is not just the “civil” centre of Florence, it is also a splendid open-air museum. The square of the Uffizi stretches out on the south side, towards the Arno, with the eye-catching Loggia dei Lanzi, whose late Gothic roof covers 15 statues which also include Benvenuto Cellini’s wonderful Perseus holding up the head of the Medusa.

The statues in the square deserve a chapter all to themselves. Apart from the great sculptures lined up in front of the facade of Palazzo Vecchio (among them the copy of David by Michelangelo), we can hardly avoid noticing the Fountain of Neptune by Ammannati and the equestrian statue of Cosimo I de Medici by Giambologna.

Close by to the Piazza della Signoria you will visit the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge which crosses the Arno at its widest point. It dates back to Roman times and has often been re-built.

After the flooding of 1333 it was re-constructed with a double row of shops, passing from a defensive type of architecture to the actual public one.

A stop will then be made in the Square of Santa Croce (Holy Cross), one of Florence’s largest squares, and traditionally one of the city’s main arenas for ceremonials and festivities.

The Basilica of Santa Croce, one of the largest churches in the city, is attributed to the genius of Arnolfo di Cambio who seems to have begun work in 1294.

The presence of a great many funeral monuments and tombstones (276 can still be seen on the floor alone) has led to the Basilica being thought of as the city Pantheon, the burial place of Florence’s most illustrious citizens. Here lie the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Vittorio Alfieri, Gioacchino Rossini. Unfortunately the monument to Dante, whose remains repose at Ravenna, is only a cenotaph.

Free time for lunch and individual sightseeing and shopping after the tour.


Florence On Your Own

This is the perfect tour for all those who have been to Florence before or feel independent enough to explore it without the help of a local guide.

A city of many layers, Florence is at once an over-run tourist magnet and a living, breathing medieval city that is home to proud Florentines. Stomping ground of Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Dante, and Machiavelli, its cultural importance can’t be overstated. It is home to three of the world’s most renowned museums: the Uffizi, Galleria dell’Accademia, and the Bargello, and boasts an incredible number of important churches, which house equally important master works. Sights such as the Ponte Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens, the Pitti Palace, and the Duomo are but a few of the city’s many offerings.

A walker’s city, the centre of Florence is a compact labyrinth of alleys and piazzas. Comfortable shoes are a must!

On the coach your tour leader will give you historical and practical information about the city of Florence and a detailed map of the historical centre, so that it will be easy to move around on your own.

Before arriving in town you will stop at Piazzale Michelangelo, a wide terrace from where it is possible to admire one of the most superb views of the city nestling in the Arno valley, surrounded by gently sloping hills. In the centre of the square stands the Monument to Michelangelo (1875) with a bronze reproduction of the four statues depicting Day, Night, Dawn and Dusk, dominated by the statue of David. On the hill behind Piazzale Michelangelo stands the Church of San Miniato al Monte.

You will then be accompanied to Piazza Santa Croce which is going to be your meeting point for the way back to the port of Livorno.


Monuments of Pisa

You will meet your tour leader at the port and depart to Pisa by AC deluxe coach.

Once in Pisa you will meet your local guide for a tour of the centre.

Since it was first laid out, Pisa’s ecclesiastical centre has been known as the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), and the sight of it as stunning today as it must have been to medieval travellers. Nowhere in Italy are the key buildings of a city organized with such precision, and nowhere is there so beautiful a contrast of stonework and surrounding meadow.

Underneath the turf of the Piazza dei Miracoli lies saturated sandy soil, whose instability caused the strange tilt of the Leaning Tower.

Begun in 1173, the tower started to lean when it had reached just three of its eight stores.

Over the next 180 years a succession of architects continued to extend it upwards, until in 1350 it was completed with a bell-chamber.

The Duomo was begun a century before the Campanile, in 1064.

With its four levels of variegated colonnades and its subtle interplay of dark grey marble and white stone, it is the archetype of the Pisan Romanesque style, a model often imitated but never surpassed.

The third building of the Miracoli ensemble, the circular Baptistery, is a bizarre mix, its three storeys of Romanesque arcades peaking in a crest of Gothic pinnacles and a dome shaped like the stalk of a lemon.

Your local guide will also take you out of the Piazza dei Miracoli to visit Piazza dei Cavalieri, one of Pisa’s most interesting sites, a large square that opens unpredictably from the narrow backstreets.

Perhaps the site of the Roman Forum, it was the central civic square of medieval Pisa, before being remodelled by Vasari as the headquarters of the Knights of St. Stephen.

On the Western side of the Square is the Renaissance adapted Palazzo dell’Orologio, in whose tower the military leader Ugolino della Gherardesca was starved to death in 1208, with his sons and grandsons, as punishment for his alleged duplicity with the Genoese enemy.

Some free time after the guided tour before coming back to the port.


Florence and Uffizi Gallery

Splendors of Florence

Florence and Pisa

Lucca & Pisa

Treasures of Lucca

Villas & Wine of Lucca

Lucca and Lucchese Villa

Bolgheri and Wine Tasting

Siena and San Gimignano

Splendors of Chianti

Etruscan Volterra and San Gimignano

Fascinating Livorno

Lucca by Bike

Puccini’s Lake & Villa

Charming Cinque Terre

Lucca, Pisa and Puccini’s Villa

Cooking Class in Tuscany

Chianti and Lunch at a Tuscan Villa

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