Delve into glorious Florence more intimately at an off-peak time of year on this seven-night, deluxe stay! Italy’s city of art shines with Renaissance jewels, from Michelangelo’s David and the towering Duomo to elegant palazzi and the Uffizi’s masterpieces. Take in the medieval grandeur of hill towns San Gimignano, Colle di Val d’Elsa and Siena, plus sample Chianti in the lovely Tuscan countryside.
Sina Villa Medici is a 19th-century palazzo constructed on the expansive grounds of a former monastery. The hotel charmingly combines contemporary style with traditional details including parquet floors and gallery art. Leisurely walk, or join the complimentary shuttle, to the city center. The Jockey Bar offers a liquid diversion. Try the menu at Il Giardino, serving Tuscan-inspired seafood and more. Unwind in the fitness club or spa. Wi-Fi is complimentary.
Leila Magarò was born in Florence and educated in England. On her return to Italy, she continued her studies in a wide range of subjects, including history, philosophy and history of art. She started to work as a tour leader and guide in her early twenties and has since traveled extensively, while at the same time pursuing a career in medicine. Her passion for architecture and the arts, focusing in particular on the Renaissance period and Italian history of art, has led her to attend several university courses and to give lectures in this field. Leila lives in Florence, but continues to travel for both pleasure and work, led by her love of art. Leila is a voracious reader of both fiction and nonfiction. She enjoys classical and jazz music, the theater and ballet, and she is an expert in both Italian and French cooking.
Depart gateway city
AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Florence, Italy. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: FLR.
Arrive at Florence Airport, Peretola. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.
Transfer to the Sina Villa Medici. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.
This afternoon, join a short orientation walk around the hotel to get acquainted with the neighborhood.
Tonight, meet your fellow travelers during a Welcome Reception and Dinner in the hotel.
Start each morning with a delicious breakfast at the Sina Villa Medici.
Discovery: Florence Walk. With your guide, stroll through the premier city of the Italian Renaissance. Stand before the stupendous Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, intricately clad in white, pink and green marble and topped by Brunelleschi’s red-tiled dome. The first stone was placed in 1296 and by the time it was completed in the 15th century, it was the largest church in Europe. Towering to the right is Giotto’s impressive campanile, or bell tower, from the 14th century. Opposite the cathedral stands the octagonal Baptistery, fronted by gilded bronze doors featuring Old Testament scenes sculpted by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Michelangelo was so impressed with their beauty that he likened them to the Gates of Paradise. After exploring around the Piazza del Duomo, make your way to the Arno River and cross the iconic Ponte Vecchio, lined with jewelry shops. Then linger in the Piazza della Signoria, the city’s political heart since the 14th century. The majestic Palazzo Vecchio, the Fountain of Neptune and the graceful statues within an open-air loggia add to the ambience. (Moderate)
Afterward, sit down for a refreshing lunch and conversation at a neighborhood restaurant.
Free Time: Strike off on your own to explore. If you would like suggestions or need help with arrangements, your Travel Director will be on hand to assist. And no trip to Florence would be complete without savoring some creamy, handmade gelato, so find time to squeeze in a sweet treat! Dig into traditional varieties like lemon, hazelnut and chocolate-flaked stracciatella, or try innovative flavors such as lavender, Black Forest cake and salted caramel.
San Gimignano | Chianti
Discovery: San Gimignano. On your first excursion into rural Tuscany, head to this picturesque hill town, which boasts 14 beautifully preserved medieval tower-houses that create a striking skyline over the Elsa Valley. In the 13th century, feuding noble families built them for defensive purposes, but many also competed to build the highest towers to show off their wealth and power. As you follow your guide along the red-brick lanes, imagine what medieval San Gimignano must have looked like with its original 72 towers! Other highlights of this UNESCO World Heritage site include a Romanesque cathedral and the Piazza della Cisterna, where locals have gathered around a charming old well since the Middle Ages. (Moderate)
After your tour, a chef in the village of Castellina demonstrates how to cook like Tuscans do, then you get to enjoy the mouthwatering results for lunch!
Discovery: Chianti. Journey to the captivating Chianti region, an idyllic vision of quiet back roads, lovely hillside towns, woodlands and, of course, vineyards. Travel to the Castello di Monsanto, an elegant winery built in 1750. Taste wines produced from handpicked Sangiovese, Canaiolo and other grapes. (Moderate)
Free Time: Make your own plans after returning to the hotel. Perhaps you’ll seek out some of the region’s pasta specialties for dinner tonight. Florentine favorites include tagliolini with truffles, tortelli stuffed with potato, pappardelle served with ragu sauce and thick pici, a spaghetti-like noodle, generously tossed with garlic and oil. Buon appetito!
Enrichment: Renaissance Art. Learn how Italian painting and sculpture evolved during this period of cultural blossoming that revived classical traditions with a focus on the individual and the beauty of the natural world.
Discovery: Accademia Gallery. Visit the Accademia, one of the city’s most celebrated museums, which houses Michelangelo’s awe-inspiring David. Commissioned for the cathedral in 1501, the 17-foot-tall marble sculpture was eventually installed in front of the Palazzo Vecchio by the Florentine government in 1504. A copy now sits in Piazza della Signoria, and the gleaming original takes center stage in one of the Accademia’s galleries. Other exhibition rooms contain Italian masterpieces of canvas and sculpture created between the mid-13th and late 16th centuries and an important collection of musical instruments dating from the late 17th to the early 19th centuries. Admire precisely crafted pieces by Antonio Stradivari, one of the world’s greatest luthiers, and Bartolomeo Cristofori, the inventor of the piano. (Moderate)
Free Time: The remainder of the day is yours to plan! For a marvelous, sweeping view over Florence, head across the Arno and travel up the hillside to Piazzale Michelangelo in the San Niccolò neighborhood.
Discovery: Uffizi Gallery. This morning, visit the Uffizi Gallery, home to one of the world’s most incomparably rich art collections. The original building was planned in 1559 by Cosimo I de’Medici, the grand duke of Tuscany, as offices, or uffizi, for local magistrates. His successor converted it into a repository for the extraordinary art amassed by previous Medici rulers and princes, who were prolific collectors. Trace the development of Florentine art from the formal Gothic era of the 13th and 14th centuries, to the realism of the early Renaissance in the 15th century, to the High Renaissance and Mannerist periods of the 16th century. (Moderate)
Discovery: Italian Coffee and Café Culture. At one of Florence’s oldest cafés, delve into the social rituals behind the national passion for coffee. Learn how favorite choices are prepared and served, then relish a classic drink and pastry. (Moderate)
Free Time: Enjoy lunch on your own and the afternoon at leisure.
Enrichment: Contemporary Italy and Life in Florence. Attend an engaging discussion of Italy’s place in the European Union and current political, economic and social trends affecting the city and country.
Share the day’s highlights with your fellow travelers over a dinner of tasty Florentine fare.
Colle di Val d’Elsa | Siena
Discovery: Colle di Val d’Elsa. Today’s full-day excursion into Tuscany begins in this hill town renowned for its centuries-old tradition of crystal glass production. Set above the Elsa River valley, it’s situated along the ancient Via Francigena, a route frequented by pilgrims and merchants traveling from northern Europe to Rome during the Middle Ages. Meander through the old town with your guide to see its charming medieval architecture. (Active)
Enjoy a relaxing lunch break at a restaurant in the area.
Discovery: Siena. Journey next to this gorgeous city, bathed in a rose-pink glow and remarkably unchanged since the Middle Ages. On a walking tour, step into one of Europe’s finest piazzas, the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, knownas “Il Campo.” Gaze up at the Torre del Mangia, Siena’s skyscraper that towers more than 280 feet over the square, and pause by the Gaia, or Joyful, fountain to see its pretty, bas-relief sculptures. Twice a year, this piazza is packed with excited spectators, galloping horses and colorful pageantry for the thrilling Palio race, when the districts of Siena, known as contrade, passionately cheer on their respective jockeys and horses. Just west of the piazza, visit Siena’s breathtaking Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, one of the best examples of the Italian Gothic style with an ornate sculptural façade designed by Giovanni Pisano. (Active)
Free Time: Spend some time exploring Siena’s atmospheric streets. Maybe you’ll stop for a taste of two Sienese treats: panforte, filled with dried fruit and nuts, and ricciarelli, chewy almond cookies.
Free Time: Enjoy a full day of exploring Florence and its environs! Consider a trip to the Pitti Palace to see the sumptuous Palatine Gallery and Royal Apartments, where the Medici, Lorraine and Savoy families once resided. Then take a rejuvenating rest in the serene Boboli Gardens, one of Florence’s first Renaissance gardens, elegantly arrayed with statues, fountains and grottoes.
Artistic treasures abound in the city’s numerous churches. The Medici Chapels feature Michelangelo’s acclaimed marble pairs, Day and Night, and Dawn and Dusk, reclining over the tombs of two prominent Medici nobles. The Chapels are part of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the city’s original cathedral, which includes magnificent bronze pulpits by Donatello. Just a short stroll away is the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. The Tornabuoni Chapel inside is decorated with important frescoes by Domenico Girlandaio and his assistants. East of the Piazza Signoria, a leisurely walk leads you to the Basilica of Santa Croce. Adorned with exquisite Renaissance art, this Franciscan church is also the burial place of many illustrious Italians, including Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli.
Tonight, over an aperitif in the hotel’s garden, celebrate your wonderful sojourn in Florence with your fellow travelers, then enjoy a Farewell Dinner together.
Depart for gateway city
After breakfast, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Florence Airport, Peretola, for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.
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