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The splendor of Florence is more than art and artifacts but a living, breathing museum inside an energetic city proudly showing its history on its sleeve. Florence housed the inspiring artists of Michelangelo and Dante, along with the brilliant minds of Machiavelli and Galileo. Enchanting sculptures decorate public squares. Hidden passageways wind around historic buildings circumventing streets. Medieval walls encircle the edges of the city, a reminder of Florence’s rich past and preserved culture.
When you arrive at the Florence International Airport, your private transfer is waiting and eager to escort you into the city. Your luxurious hotel is situated in the heart of the historic center, looking out onto the height of the famed Florence Duomo. The city brims with life, from locals enjoying the day’s warmth, sitting at tables along the cobbled walkways and chatting with exuberant hand motions, to the gold plated doors of the Gates of Paradise on the baptistery glinting in the afternoon light.
Take your time getting to know the city with a visit to Piazza della Signoria. The Palazzo Vecchio borders the edge of the square, dating back to late 13th-century, with a crowning bell tower standing more than 308 feet tall. Marble statues decorate the southwest corner of the square inside the Loggia. The grace and elegance of each movement is carved in stone and preserved for future generations. It is the perfect introduction to a city draped in beauty and cast in enchanting history.
In the morning, the streets of the city are calm. Locals fill the cafes in search of a fresh espresso. The aroma of brewing coffee beans spills into the streets. In the morning light, you can see the famous brick dome of the Duomo standing tall above the surrounding buildings. Your guide meets you in the hotel lobby after breakfast ready to take you on a full day Florence tour. You will explore Florence’s captivating gems, beginning with the Galleria dell’Accademia. Your guide leads you past the line and into the coveted museum.
White walls and high ceilings create the appearance of endless space bathed in light. The museum was established in the 18th-century with the intention of creating a museum dedicated to the works of Michelangelo. Today, the museum holds collections of musical instruments, artwork, and four of Michelangelo’s unfinished works known as Prisoners. The earthen aroma, from the sculpture work that students of the art university continue to produce, emanates from the workshops connected to the museum.
The jewel of the collection stands at the end of a wide hallway, underneath an elegant dome. Michelangelo’s David is radiant, carved with attention to detail, which makes even the toughest marble seem soft. Your guide explains to you the context of the statue, beyond just the breathtaking look of the artwork. The statue was erected in the 16th-century and stands 17 feet tall, commissioned to decorate the Florence Cathedral. It stood as a testament to the expulsion of the Medici and now remains one of the most significant sculptures in Western Civilization. The wonderment of the Accademia and Florence continues.
In the evening, you can dine in one of the celebrated restaurants of the city, including Enoteca Pinchiorri, a three-time-Michelin star restaurant with more than 120,000 bottles of wine stored in the cellar.
The hidden bakeries of Florence bake brioche throughout the night, which fill the cafes with freshly baked goods by sunrise. The aroma lingers across the ancient city until the scent of espresso takes over. The Arno River rushes against the banks of the city separating the neighborhoods of the historic city center and the Oltrarno, which stands for, “the other side of the Arno.” Your guide takes you through the classic sites of the city, beginning with an exceptional exploration of the Uffizi Gallery and its hidden passageway known as the Vasari Corridor.
The large windows of the Uffizi provide an abundance of natural light to spread through the museum. The building was established in the 16th-century under the patronage of Cosimo I de’ Medici, who wished to build an office for the city’s magistrates. The beauty of the museum is more than in its architecture, but also within the artistry it holds. You can hear your footsteps echoing down the halls. The Hellenistic Art decorating the restored Niobe Room adds another layer of grace to the already elegant décor.
Tapestries decorated the original walls of the museum. When you reach the Vasari Corridor, your guide points out the windows to show you where you are and where the corridor leads. Portraits from the 17th-century hang on the walls. You can see the crowds of people strolling along the cobbled streets of Lungarno Archibusieri. The corridor was constructed as a passageway leading from the magistrates’ to the Pitti Palace across the river.
After your excursions yesterday, cross the water today and your guide leads you through the narrow lanes of the neighborhood known for housing more than 500 years of artisan workshops. A collection of these workshops lines the tiny side streets, representing the historic enterprises of Florence, from tapestries to leatherwork. The aroma of fresh pasta emanates from the doors of the Trattoria La Mangiatoia in Piazza Santo Spirito. The jewelry shop of Cose Preziose contains unique pieces inspired by the art history of the city and are made using traditional methods with modern design. The majesty of the city stands in museum galleries and displays along the streets of hidden neighborhoods.
The afternoon is at your leisure. You may want to return to the leather and jewelry shops for a souvenir. You will then have another reminder of your wonderful time in Florence.
The museum behind the Duomo, known as the Opera del Duomo, holds powerful images of the architecture and original works of historic artists. However, many people often overlook the museum because of its simple façade. The Cathedral Workshop was founded in the 13th-century to oversee the construction of the bell tower and cathedral. The building borders the piazza underneath the shadow of the cathedral’s tremendous dome. Your guide meets you after breakfast and leads you to the museum hidden in plain sight, making it a true hidden treasure of the city. Gothic sculptures line the walls of the wide gallery.
Construction materials and instruments used to create Brunelleschi’s dome offer insight into the tremendous feat. Michelangelo’s Pieta decorates the landing between the two floors and once stood inside the Duomo itself. Another gem of the exhibit is the original Gates of Paradise, cast in golden splendor and created by Ghiberti in the 12th-century, depicting scenes from the Old Testament. Your guide leads you through the wonderful collection of artifacts showcasing the elaborate detail of the cathedral, from its inception to decoration. The city outside the museum fills with energetic life.
People stroll down Via del Corso. You stroll over the Ponte Vecchio, returning to Oltrarno, and visiting the piece of countryside hidden behind the Pitti Palace. The palace houses the Boboli Gardens, dating back to the 16th-century and decorated with a lavish collection of sculptures spanning 300 years of artistry. The grandeur of the palace and the gardens is later offset by the simple beauty of the San Miniato Church. The edifice overlooks Piazzale Michelangelo, bordered by cypress trees and the Tuscan hills.
The aroma of myrrh fills the chapel in the evening. The tranquility of the gilded frescoes adds luster to the Gregorian chants, which fill the halls every evening. The low hum of the songs fills with layers of emotion, from devoutness to humbleness, providing you with an image of the Renaissance city that you had yet to have experienced. Later in the evening, you can discover the unique flavors of Alle Murate, a restaurant that also houses a museum draped in frescoes and filled with succulent aromas.
Medici is a name that hovers over Tuscan, and specifically Florentine, history as both a blessing and a curse. The family supported some of the greatest artwork created during the Renaissance, brought wealth to the city, unified many Tuscan towns under one banner, and also had various members of the family grow to become Pope.
Outside of Florence, near the Tuscan town of Prato, is the 15th-century fortified house known as the Medici Villa, or Vila di Poggio a Caiano. The quadrangular country home was constructed around a central courtyard. Each room had a view overlooking the greenery and elegance of the inner square. When you reach the home, the grandeur is immediately noticeable. The landscape is manicured and serene. The double parallel stairwell leads to the central portico located on the upper floor. The central hall contains decorated frescoes dating back to the 16th-century and commissioned by Pope Leo X. The frescoes depict rural scenes and images correlated to classical legends, as allegories of the Medici’s history.
Today, your guide introduces you to a popular local chef known for celebrating traditional Tuscan dishes using the freshest ingredients. The chef leads you to a kitchen filled with the aromas of herbs and fresh produce. The chef guides you through a demonstration of a dish, highlighting how to cut the vegetables, why these ingredients are important, along with which farm produced the ingredients. The scent of sautéing garlic and onion fills the kitchen. You follow your chef’s examples, replicating each movement before creating a Tuscan delicacy of pappardelle con la leper, a dish of ribbon pasta with a hardy meat sauce spiced with cloves.
In the morning, you hear of another secret bakery in the city. With your final hours in Florence counting down, your guide has given you directions to the hidden confections that eludes visitors but calls to locals. With that in mind, you seek out “The Secret Bakery,” Pasticceria Vinci & Bongini, in a small square off of Bia dei Benci. The dim light of the morning peeks over the crown of Santa Croce. The aroma of crunchy Cornetta, filled with Nutella, fills the air. Each bite brings a brilliant smile to your face, from the warmth of the pastry to the gooey texture of the melted chocolate-hazelnut spread.
You have taken your time in Florence and unearthed the secrets of the city, knowing that you could easily spend another week and still feel that there was more to discover. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you in the hotel lobby. Your transfer can take you to Florence International Airport for your flight home or escort you to Santa Maria Novella train station where you can continue your in-depth explorations of Italy, this time focusing on the Eternal City of Rome.
Frescoes decorate the Medici family chapel inside the Church of San Lorenzo. The golden doors known as the Gates of Paradise decorate the courtyard of a hidden museum. The enticing aroma of a secret bakery fills the nearby cobblestone streets. Your custom tailored in-depth tour of Florence is designed to show you the city like a local, giving you enough time to savor the art, indulge in the cuisine, and embrace the wonders of the city. Eat gelato in the company of treasured sculptures. Dine in restaurants that have earned Michelin stars. Stroll through immaculate gardens near both quaint and lavish artisan shops.
When you arrive at Florence International Airport, your private transfer is waiting to greet you. Once in the city, you find the pleasures of the Renaissance displayed along the streets. Signs commemorate Dante, and the famed dome of the Florence Cathedral stands tall in the historic city center. The following day, your guide meets you in the hotel lobby ready to introduce you to what so many people have found fascinating about the city. You begin with the Accademia, where your guide gives you an intimate look at the museum and Michelangelo’s David.
Enjoy the visceral and energetic sites of San Lorenzo Market, along with the Medici Chapels. Climb to the top of the Duomo for a view of the surrounding city and its charming red tiled roofs before strolling through the remaining wonders of the historic center. In the morning, your guide meets you once again with more of the city’s treasures to show you. Visit the Bargello to see Donatello’s jade colored David and journey through the Uffizi Gallery, surpassing the unparalleled artwork and passing through the Vasari Corridor.
Visit the enchanting Oltrarno to witness artisan shops owned and operated by families for generations. The following day, your guide leads you around the Duomo for a fabulous look at the Museo dell’Opera dell Duomo, filled with relics of the cathedral and hidden in plain sight. Enjoy a relaxed pace through the Galileo Museum before exploring the view at Piazzale Michelangelo and the Gregorian chants at nearby San Miniato Church.
The following day, your guide leads you outside of Florence and into the Tuscan countryside to explore the stunning Villa di Poggio a Caiano, which once belonged to the Medici family. Later in the day, you will meet with a private chef who will teach you the secrets of Tuscan cuisine. In the morning, your private transfer meets you at your hotel, and you can decide whether its time to return home or continue to Rome for another in-depth Italian experience. For trip extension ideas, browse the Italy travel reviews on Zicasso.
$2195 per person (excluding international flights)
This trip is customizable for your private travel.
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.