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Full Day plus break for lunch
Make a memorable excursion from the Middle Ages to the Italian Renaissance as we take you through the most exceptional treasures of Florence.
A car and driver will be waiting for you at the port when you disembark to take you to Florence where you will meet our guide and begin the visit. At the end of the tour you will be taken back to the port.
Florence: A day in the life
Though Florence is a city that could easily occupy the curious traveller for a lifetime, its rich culture can nonetheless be spectacularly brought to life over the course of a single day. With this tour we will embark on an epic journey from the Middle Ages to the end of the Renaissance, exploring one of the most important periods in the history of human civilisation. Along the way will learn of the meteoric rise of the Florentine merchant classes, the development of modern commerce, and the political intrigues that frequently threw the city into turmoil. Explore the opulent palaces of the new elites, and marvel at some of the greatest artistic masterpieces ever created. Above all we will immerse ourselves in the profound philosophies that animated the thinkers, artists and poets of the Florentine Renaissance.
Explore the world's greatest collection of Renaissance art at the Uffizi
The Uffizi gallery is of course one of the highlights of our tour, and here we will encounter many of the artists who made the city famous. The masterpieces of Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio dramatically thrust us into the world of the Renaissance, and in their forms we will come to understand the era's radically evolving relationship between man and God. We will explore the development of three-dimensional perspective and the rediscovery of the classical world, and meet the artists and patrons who gave the world around them such extraordinary visual expression.
Come face-to-face with Michelangelo's iconic David in the Accademia
In the museum of the Accademia we will come face-to-face some of Michelangelo's finest sculptures. Most famous of all is of course his magisterial David, who towers above us with a haughty grandeur. It is perhaps the greatest expression of idealized classical beauty ever carved, and was taken by his contemporaries as proof that his chisel was guided by the hand of God himself. We will also admire his series of unfinished Slaves, disquieting figures locked in an eternal torment as they try to free themselves from their marble prisons.
Wonder at the virtuosity of Brunelleschi and Ghiberti at the Duomo
The religious heart of the city is the Piazza of the Duomo, with its splendid octagonal Baptistery. The Baptistery's celebrated bronze doors designed by Ghiberti will immerse us in the artistic revolution that was gathering pace in the city. The enormous Duomo meanwhile reminds us of one of the Renaissance's most impressive achievements – the cathedral was without a dome for 125 years, and was only successfully completed thanks to the audacious techniques and ingenuity of Brunelleschi. We are now in the city's golden age, a time when the influence of Florence's banks and trades were being felt throughout Europe.
Relive the lives of the merchants who transformed Florence into Italy's most powerful city
That distant mercantile past is today only a memory. But the story of the city's guilds is an integral part of the city's history, and it will be brought vividly to life in beautiful Orsanmichele, by turns granary, market and church. The statues that ornament its façade, including Donatello's splendidSt. George, were commissioned by the guilds in an attempt to promote their image in Florence and beyond. In Palazzo Davanzati, meanwhile, we will see how the demands of the new elites changed the history of domestic architecture. In contrast to the medieval buildings across the street the palace is light and spacious, and gives us a valuable insight into the private lives of the city's powerful merchant dynasties.
Learn about the Renaissance ideals that changed the face of architecture
The Ospedale degli Innocenti was perhaps the first true Renaissance building, built on proportional and mathematical principles intended to create a completely harmonious whole. Designed by the great architect Filippo Brunelleschi and financed by the city's guilds, the Ospedale was the world's first orphanage. It was conceived in an attempt to curb the widespread infanticide of babies born out of wedlock by allowing mothers to anonymously leave their children in its care. The sober elegance of its architecture would be widely imitated in Europe for centuries to come.
Uncover Florence's tangled history of power, intrigue and corruption
Piazza della Signoria was the political heart of the Renaissance city, and here the fluctuating fortunes of the Florentine Republic is writ large in the shadow of the imposing Palazzo Vecchio. This great building was the seat of the city magistrates, safeguards of Florence's democratic autonomy. We will explore the powerful Medici family's ever increasing influence in their affairs, until they eventually became de-facto rulers of the city. This piazza was also the site of the apocalyptic sermons of the preacher Savonarola, who was burned at the stake here in 1498.
Pay tribute to the city's most famous sons at Santa Croce
The 14th century basilica of Santa Croce is one of the most impressive medieval monuments in the city. Inside we will admire the frescoes of Giotto recounting the life of St. Francis, a wooden crucifix by Donatello, and Brunelleschi's marvellous Pazzi chapel, a masterpiece of Renaissance proportion. We will pause to pay homage at the tombs of some of Italy's most famous sons including Dante, Machiavelli, and above all Michelangelo. Though the great sculptor died in Rome, he was spirited back to the city of his birth in the dead of night so that he could be mourned by the entire populace.
Gaze into the waters of the Arno from iconic Ponte Vecchio
We end our tour on the Ponte Vecchio, perhaps the city's most iconic landmark. A bridge has crossed the river Arno here at its narrowest point since at least the 10th century, and the current version dates from 1345. Long renowned for its picturesque charm, it was the only bridge to survive the Nazi retreat from Florence unscathed. For centuries butchers and fishmongers sold their goods here, and were only replaced by the current goldsmiths and jewellers in the 16th century at the command of Medici nobles. It is a place where the many histories of Florence collide, where merchants, tradesmen, artists and aristocrats all rub shoulders together. Join us as we tread in their footsteps through the streets of one of the world's most magical cities.