Small Group Art & Cultural Tours

Florence, Vicenza & Venice 2014

TourItinerary

Tour photo album

Join Mary Kisler for an intensive week discovering Florence and its environs. Famous as the cradle of the Italian Renaissance, this beautiful city remains unchanged in many ways since Lorenzo de’ Medici strode its paving stones. At one level the city can be read as a 15th century time capsule demonstrating the power of its ruling families, their public feuds and festivals. Florence flourished as a metaphor for new ideas about the individual – Leonardo’s uomo universale – man as a measure of all things. Yet Florence, like so many cities, is also full of secrets – with tucked away gardens, hidden museums and private chapels awaiting discovery. And how did artists and ordinary mortals fit in to the city’s grand designs, and where did women stand within this framework? We look forward to discovering Florence with you.1

Day 1

Welcome to Florence.
Please arrive by noon to check in.
This afternoon we will meet in the foyer at 2.30pm for an introduction and enjoy an afternoon walk to familiarise ourselves with the city, calling in to Santa Croce and the Pazzi Chapel on the way, before wending our way up to San Miniato to hear the monks singing vespers at 5pm. From Piazzale Michelangelo we get a panoramic view of the city.
Overnight Florence

Day 2

Please be ready to depart at 9.00am
Today Italy celebrates Festa della Repubblica – the day of voting in 1946 when the Italian people voted to become a republic.
First we will visit the exquisite convent of San Marco where we will see the tiny cells frescoed by Fra Angelico, the Dominican artist who could well be described as an early modernist. San Marco was also home to Fra Savonarola, the priest who brought Florence to her knees, only to meet a fiery end. Walking back down via Cavour, we will visit Palazzo Medici-Riccardi to see Benozzo Gozzoli’s famous Journey of the Magi, a tiny jewel of a chapel, which includes many members of the Medici family travelling with the Magi to see the new-born Christchild.
After time for a leisurely lunch we cross the river where Florence itself serves as the backdrop to Masolino and Masaccio’s frescoes of The Life of St Peter in the Brancacci Chapel. From there we will call into Brunelleschi’s church of Santo Spirito.
Overnight Florence (B)

Day 3

Please be ready to depart at 8.45am
We board our bus this morning for a visit to La Pietra, the famous garden that belonged to Harold Acton, and now owned by Harvard University. Then we climb the hill to Fiesole, to visit the tiny Chapel and Museum of San Francesco before we have lunch at Ristorante La Reggia degli Etruschi (included). We have booked tables on the loggia, from which there is a magnificent view right down the Arno valley.
On our return to Florence we visit the Bargello and finish the day by circumnavigating the Duomo (Cathedral) and Giotto’s tower, before entering the Baptistry, one of Florence’s most important religious buildings, dedicated to the city’s patron saint, John the Baptist (whose feast is celebrated on 24 June).
Overnight Florence (B L)

Day 4

Please be ready to depart at 9.15am
This morning we will call in to the lovely church of Santa Trinità in via Tornabuoni, the most elegant street in Florence, before visiting Palazzo Davanzati, the museum of the Florentine house.
Then we will walk the length of the famous Vasari Corridor, which stretches from the Uffizi and the Palazzo Signoria (the seat of government in the 15th and 16th centuries) above the Ponte Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti, acquired by the wife of the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, Eleanora da Toledo. We can get lunch in the courtyard of Palazzo Pitti, before visiting the Galleria Palatina, which is crammed with an enormous range of Renaissance paintings in an extremely opulent setting. Later, we will wander up through the Boboli Gardens. From there people may choose to walk back down and stroll back to the Ponte Vecchio, or else leave by the top gate behind Michelangelo’s Belvedere (a fort designed to keep the citizens under surveillance rather than warding off outsiders). From there it is possible to enter the Bardini Gardens and wind back down to the river.
Overnight Florence (B)

Day 5

We depart at 9am this morning by bus for Siena.
The early Renaissance hill town of Siena is an architectural gem. Site of the famous palio (horse race), its Roman-Gothic Cathedral houses the famous Piccolomini Library; the famous Gothic octagonal pulpit by Nicola Pisano which is supported on lions, while there is a tiled marble labyrinth laid out on the floor. The Sacristy houses Renaissance frescos by Domenico Ghirlandaio, whose works we will also focus on in Florence.
In the museum attached to the Duomo (cathedral) we will see Duccio’s famous Maestà (1308–1311) and various other works by Sienese masters. In Siena we will also visit the Palazzo Pubblico to see Lorinzetti’s frescoes of Good and Bad Government.
Overnight Florence (B)

Day 6

Please be ready to depart at 9.00am
This morning we will visit the church of Santa Maria Novella to see Masaccio’s Crucifixion and Domenico Ghirlandaio’s choir, which is lined with the Life Stories of St John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary. The church also houses Masaccio’s Holy Trinity. There will be time for a leisurely lunch before we meet at the Uffizi.
Please meet in the Uffizi courtyard at 2.30pm for a 3pm entry.
Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure in the grand rooms of the Uffizi home to some of the great treasures of the Renaissance, not least Giotto and Botticelli.
Overnight Florence (B)

Day 7

Please be ready to depart at 9.45am
For something completely different, this morning we will visit the Marino Marini Museum, housed in the deconsecrated church of San Pancrazio, which also houses Leon Battista Alberti’s Rucellai Chapel and its famous sepulchre, which was begun around 1458.
Finally we will visit the church of San Lorenzo, paying particular attention to the Laurentian Library with its remarkable Michelangelo staircase at the entrance.
The afternoon is free for people to visit other museums of their choice, have some retail therapy, or simply wander along, gelato in hand.
Overnight Florence (B)

In the afternoon visit Museo di Firenze com’era and the Museo del Duomo

Day 8

Please be checked out and ready to depart at 9am
We take our bus to Vicenza via lunch in Verona and a visit to the Castelvecchio Museum, restored by Carlo Scarpa. The building houses a remarkable collection of artworks, beautifully set off by Scarpa’s modernist forms of display.
Once settled in our hotel in Vicenza, we will explore the town, remarkable for being the birthplace of both Andrea Palladio, one of Italy’s greatest historical architects, and Carlo Scarpa, his modernist equal.
Overnight Vicenza (B)

Day 9

Please be ready to depart by 9am
This morning we will take a relaxing and picturesque stroll to Villa Valmarana ai Nani. Decorated by Giambattista Tiepolo, the house is still lived in by the family. Then if we have enough time, we will continue along the lane until we come to Villa Almerico Capra, also known as Villa Rotonda, designed by Palladio but finished by his student Vincenzo Scamozzi after his master’s death. It was the setting for Kiri Te Kanawa’s Don Giovanni.
This afternoon we will discover a little of Vicenza with Mary, or fee to wander by some of the other Palladio buildings in Vicenza, some of which are open to the public.
Overnight Vicenza (B)

Day 10

Please be ready to depart by 9.30am
This morning we will visit the Teatro Olimpico, the unique and famous indoor theatre designed by Palladio but once again finished by Vincenzo Scamozzi. This is a short walk from the hotel.
After an early lunch we will board our bus for an afternoon to Bassano Del Grappa, where we will begin by crossing the Ponte Alpini, calling in to the tiny Alpini Museum, located in the basement of an 18th century bar.
After lunch we will visit the Museo Civico, and the adjacent Print Museum. Hopefully there will be time for us to explore the town a little and enjoy the mountain air before wending our way back to Vicenza.
In the evening we plan to dine together at Al Pestello, a characterful trattoria that specialised in dishes from the Veneto, not least baccalà or salted cod.
Overnight Vicenza (B,D)

Day 11

Please be checked out and ready to depart at 8.45am
Today we drive to Venice making to Giotto’s famous Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel in Padua. On arrival in Venice we will transfer to our hotel for the last three nights by water taxi. Our hotel is the Star Splendid Hotel.
Once we have all settled in, we will cross over to Dorsoduro and walk to the end of the Grand Canal, visiting the magnificent church of Santa Maria della Salute, before crossing to Piazza San Marco, where we will visit the Duomo. For those who want to be able to experience the church and all its treasures without hordes of tourists, we recommend staying on for mass.
Overnight Venice (B)

Day 12

Please be ready to depart at 8.45am
In the morning we visit one of the greatest collections of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Academia, before moving down to the Guggenheim museum. Then we take to the sea, catching the ferry first to Burano and then on to Torcello – two of the wonderful islands in the lagoon. You change ferries at Burano, which is a lace-making community. Great fish restaurants too.
Overnight Venice (B)

Day 13

Please be ready to depart by 9.00am
For our final day if you wish you are free to spend time on your own wandering Venice at your leisure or you may wish to join Mary as she spends her final day visiting the Scuola Grande di San Rocco to see Tintoretto’s grand cycle of paintings, as well as the Frari for Titian’s Assumption and Canova’s tomb.
In the afternoon those who wish can also vist the NZ pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale at Palazzo Pisani, which is not far from our hotel.
Overnight Venice (B)