2 1/2 hour drive from Rome – 10 hours total from your hotel – takes you and your group along the Autostrada A1, or Autostrada del Sole (“Motorway of the Sun”), an Italian motorway which connects Milan with Naples via Bologna, Florence and Rome. Once we reach Florence the tour will include:
The beautiful Michelangelo Square, where you can get the best panoramic view of Florence;
Santa Croce Church where all the most important Italian artist are buried;
The Duomo (see more information below);
Giotto Bell Tower;
Signoria Square and Palace;
The Ponte Vecchio – the famous old bridge (see more information below);
Accademian Museum to visit the “David”, by Michelangelo or to the Uffizi gallery.
We will recommend a good restaurant for your dining pleasure.
The best-known site and crowning architectural jewel of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, del Santa Maria del Fiore, known as ‘The Duomo’. The magnificent dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. The nearby Campanile tower (partly designed by Giotto) and the Baptistery buildings are also highlights. Both the dome itself and the campanile are open to tourists and offer excellent views.
At the heart of the city in Piazza della Signoria is Bartolommeo Ammanati’s Fountain of Neptune, which is a masterpiece of marble sculpture at the terminus of a still functioning Roman aqueduct.
The Arno river, which cuts through the old part of the city, is as much a character in Florentine history as many of the men who lived there. Historically, the locals have had a love-hate relationship with the Arno — which alternated from nourishing the city with commerce, and destroying it by flood.
One of the bridges in particular stands out as being unique — The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), whose most striking feature is the multitude of shops built upon its edges, held up by stilts. The bridge also carried Vasari’s elevated corridor linking the Uffizi to the Medici palace (Palazzo Pitti). First constructed by the Etruscans in ancient times, this bridge is the only one in the city to have survived World War II intact.
The San Lorenzo contains the Medici Chapel, a private chapel owned by the Medici family who were one of the most powerful families in Florence during the 15th century. Nearby is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the finest art galleries in the world.
The Uffizi (‘offices’) itself is located on the corner of Piazza della Signoria, a site important for three main reasons:
1) In 1301, Dante was sent into Exile from here (a plaque on one of the walls of the Uffizi commemorates the event);
2) In 1497, it was the location of the Bonfire of the Vanities (a plaque in the middle of the plaza commemorates that event), followed in 1498 by the execution of its instigator, Girolamo Savonarola; and
3) In 1504, it was the original location of Michelangelo’s David (now replaced by a reproduction as the original was moved indoors to the Accademia dell’Arte del Disegno), in front of the Palazzo della Signoria (also known as Palazzo Vecchio).
In addition to the Uffizi, Florence has other world-class museums:
The Bargello concentrates on sculpture, containing many priceless works of art created by such sculptors as Donatello, Giambologna, and Michelangelo;
The Accademia dell’Arte del Disegno (often simply called the Accademia) collection’s highlights are Michelangelo’s David and his unfinished Slaves;
Across the Arno is the huge Pitti Palace lavishly decorated with the Medici family’s former private collection. The art gallery contained a large number of Renaissance works, including several by Raphael. Adjoining the Palace are the Boboli Gardens, elaborately landscaped and with many interesting sculptures;
The elaborate Santa Croce church contains the monumental tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante (actually a cenotaph), and many other notables.
Other important basilicas in Florence include Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo, Santo Spirito and the Orsanmichele. The city’s principal football team is AC Fiorentina. Florence has been the setting for numerous works of fiction and movies, including the novels and associated films “Hannibal”, “Tea with Mussolini” and “A Room with a View”.
Our driver/guide will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel at the conclusion of the tour, tickets, meals and extras not included.
Florence – Tuscany