Day 1 - Art and Power in the Florence of the Medici
Did you visit the magnificent Uffizi, Michelangelo's David at the Accademia, and the Duomo during your first time in Florence? If you didn't, be sure to see them this time.
You'll certainly have passed through the Piazza della Signoria, known as the “living room” of the city. A great choice to start your new route is to go immediately to the Palazzo Vecchio, past and present seat of the city government, but also one of the most visited museums in the city, with various activities (including recreational pastimes for children).
The mighty and severe stone façade, dominated by the Tower of Arnolfo, conceals centuries of stories and intrigues but also great halls and magnificent works of art. The intriguing Secret Passages Tour takes you into the hidden and most beautiful parts of the Palace. There is also the Visit to the Quartieri Monumentali, which will reveal striking works of art (including pieces by Michelangelo and Donatello) and spectacular rooms, such as the Sala delle Antiche Mappe (with antique maps). You'll also see the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred), imposing for its size (177' x 75' and 59' high) and adorned with a ceiling of 42 frames designed by Vasari. For an unusual and entertaining tour, discover the Palace led by characters in period costume, And of course there is the the archaeological site of the Roman Theater of ancient Florentia, brought to light by recent excavations. We recommend that you plan on spending half a day to visit the must-see complex of the Palazzo Vecchio without hurrying. Plan on at least three hours.
If you have visited the Palazzo Vecchio in the morning, take a five minute walk to your next point of interest: pass through the picturesque Via dell'Anguillara (filled with artisan workshops) to the liveliest square in Florence, Santa Croce, which hosts the “historical soccer” in the summer. The square is dominated by the magnificent Basilica of Santa Croce. Its beautiful frescoed chapels, cloisters, and especially the tombs of the great Italians, such as Michelangelo, Rossini, Galileo make it well worth the 90 minute visit. After your visit, take a refreshing break at one of the many excellent bars, cafes, and restaurants. Once rested, take advantage of being in the area: there are many great shops, perfect for getting those special souvenirs and gifts made in Florence!
How about one last visit for the day? Discover the Casa Buonarroti, just 200 meters from Piazza Santa Croce (Via Ghibellina 70). The museum is a celebration of the genius of Michelangelo, with beautiful early works of the artist, as well as his family's rich collection of art.
If you want to end the evening in the area, we recommend the traditional dish par excellence bistecca alla Fiorentina (a rare and tender steak the Florentine way) at Dino's at number 47 Via Ghibellina. In addition, try the "sformatino con funghi, tartufo e salsa di pecorino,” a kind of savory flan with mushrooms, truffle, and Pecorino sauce, all in a rustic ambiance with fair prices!
Day 2 - Discover Tuscany: Pisa, Chianti, and Cortona
There is a lot to see in Florence - but don't forget that Tuscany is one of the most beautiful and varied regions in the world! The landscapes are legendary, and there are many other towns with rich cultural treasures. An easy way to discover Tuscany from Florence with one of these “Out of Town” tours.
Above all, don't miss Pisa, famous for its leaning tower; discover all the highlights of Pisa, the beautiful Piazza dei Miracoli, the Duomo, the Baptistery, and the Tower. Add a little wine tasting to the day with the tour to Pisa & Lucca: a side trip to charming Lucca, which is only a few miles from Pisa and offers a mix of medieval and nineteenth century architecture. On this tour, you'll visit beautiful churches and antique shops tucked between ancient walls; you'll end the day at a farmhouse in the countryside of Lucca where you will have the opportunity to taste some of the best wines and oils of the region.
If you love the medieval heart of Florence, the southernmost part of Tuscany will win you over! A tour of Siena, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, and Chianti will make it easy. The itinerary will take you back in time, through the rolling hills of the Chianti region with its high quality vineyards, olive groves, cypresses. Step into fairytale places like San Gimignano ("the New York of the Middle Ages" because of its many towers), and Monteriggioni (a tiny traditional hamlet). And get to know Siena, a city where time seems to have stopped in 1400, with the beautiful Cathedral and Piazza del Campo, unique in the world for its shape. It will be an unforgettable day!
If you'd rather stay close to Florence, choose a tour of Villa Peyron. Set on the slopes of Fiesole, just minutes from the city center, you'll find a uniquely furnished villa with a sumptuous garden with statues, fountains, and flowers arranged in the classic geometric rhythms of the Italian garden tradition. The view of Florence is spectacular. Back in town, join an exclusive Wine & Cheese Tasting in one of the best wine bars located in the heart of Florence. The event starts at 5:00pm, and a detailed explanation of the various flavors and historical background will accompany your sensory experience. Enjoy some of the many delicious tastes of the Tuscany region!
And if you're dreaming to end the day with a dinner out of the ordinary, treat yourself to a Renaissance Banquet: Step into the beautiful Palazzo Borghese and travel back in time. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner, while harps and flutes play music of the Renaissance, and dances from the past whirl past you. The waiters, musicians, and dancers are all in Renaissance costumes. And if you want, you can wear the traditional costumes and learn dance steps of the 1400's!
Day 3 – Florentine Culture: Fashion, Artisans, and Residences
The choice of itineraries for your third day leads you to what made Florence unique in the world: the Florentine's constant search for beauty. Everything in Florence tends toward beauty: the art, the architecture, the fashion and accessories, the gardens.
Let's start with fashion, one of the icons of Italy. Again, we recommend tours to make things easy for you. For example, the Florence Fashion Addicted outing will reveal to you how Florentine creations have influenced the ancient courts of Europe since the Middle Ages, creating the legendary "Made in Italy". The visit also includes the Costume Gallery, the famous Ferragamo footwear collection, and the Gucci Museum.
A unique way to learn about the history of Florence is a visit to The Ancient Shops of Florence: This walking tour will take you to some of the landmark boutiques of Florence. Florence was the capital of Italy during the mid-1800s, a period when the city saw the birth of elegant cafes, markets, fashion boutiques, and beauty stores - some of them still in business today!
And if you love fashion and are looking for designer shopping at bargain prices, take a few hours to visit the Gucci and Prada Outlets.
As you stand in front of Santa Maria del Carmine with your back to the church, take Via Santa Monaca, and then Via St. Augustine. You will arrive in less than 10 minutes in front of the Pitti Palace, residence of the Medici, the Lorena in the 1700s, and the King of Italy at the end of the 1800s. A visit to the Palazzo Pitti is essential to your itinerary, as it is the Medici's patronage and vivid interest for art and science that attracted the greatest minds and hands in the world to the city, laying the foundation for the search for beauty in Florence. Immerse yourself in the ancient residence: you'll find that the Palatine Art Gallery is a beautiful museum (with famous masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, and many others). And of course the rich and refined Royal Apartments are well worth a visit, too!
The love for beauty is also evident in the care and refinement of Florentine gardens, such as the Boboli in the back of the Pitti Palace, and the nearby Bardini Garden, which are the ideal complement to your day in the Oltrarno district. The Boboli Garden will capture you with the geometry and harmony of the landscape, with statues, fountains, and views of the center of Florence. The Bardini Garden, about 300 meters from the Boboli and included in the same admission ticket, will amaze you with its caves and the Baroque staircase with a terrace that offers a stunning panoramic view onto Florence and the Tuscan hills.
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