Florence revisited: Lesser-known treasures and private places
3–9 Novermber 2008 (EV 177)
7 days, £1,590
Lecturer: Dr Michael Douglas-Scott
- Visits places that are private, or not easily accessible to the public, or off the beaten track.
- Includes palaces outside Florence – Fiesole, Poggio a Caiano, Carmignano, Artiminio, Galluzzo.
So abundant are Florence's artistic riches that some master-pieces elude all but the most regular visitors. Unless you join this tour, which has been designed specially for those who are familiar with the main sights. As an introduction to Florence, it would be decidedly eccentric.
One of the reasons why many of the items on this itinerary are usually missed is simply because they are, geographically, peripheral, being located away from the main clusters of monuments and museums.
In quality and importance, the art seen far exceeds that on many of our tours to regions which have been less creative. But in Florence, even the second division is a world-beater.
Subsidiary themes will emerge, such as depictions of the Last Supper, and the brief but brilliant episode of Mannerist painting. But the tour is a medley of pleasures, from mediaeval to (nearly) modern, from the hard-to-find to the (nearly) impossible to get into. And then there is the beauty of Florence itself, and the charm of its surroundings.
Many of the visits are by special arrangement and are dependent on the generosity of owners or institutions. There is the chance that some visits may have to be withdrawn, but alternatives will be arranged.
DAY 1: fly at c. 2.15 p.m. from London Gatwick Airport to Pisa with British Airways—coach to Florence.
DAY 2: the Museo Bigallo, with works by many Florentine artists including a triptych by Bernardo Daddi—delightful 15th-cent. frescoes at the Confraternity of St Martin and the Last Supper at Ognissanti—Perugino’s tranquil Crucifixion in Sta Maria Maddelena dei Pazzi—the grand 17th-cent. Palazzo Corsini has the finest private collection in Florence, with pictures by Botticelli, Bellini, Sebastiano, Rosso, etc.
DAY 3: the Last Supper by Andrea del Sarto at San Salvi, the greatest 16th-cent. picture in Florence—the Badia Fiesolana near Fiesole, a 15th-cent. church with a Romanesque façade, and S. Domenico, which has paintings by Fra Angelico—in Fiesole, see mediaeval and Renaissance altarpieces in the cathedral and S. Francesco, and the well-preserved Roman theatre—the Villa Medici is one of the earliest of the family’s country retreats.
DAY 4: paintings by Ghirlandaio: an Adoration of the Magi in Brunelleschi’s Foundling Hospital—Michelozzo’s plan of Santissima Annunziata—frescoes here and at the Chiostro dello Scalzo by Andrea del Sarto and other Mannerist masters—the Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia with the Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno, and another by Perugino’s workshop at the Cenacolo di Foligno—free afternoon.
DAY 5: walk through the Vasari Corridor from the Uffizi to the Pitti Palace, viewing the Medici collection of artists’ self-portraits—in and around the Pitti Palace there is a range of museums, the great picture collection of the Galleria Palatina and at the top of the Boboli Gardens the Porcelain Museum in an 18th-cent. ballroom—visit to a private palace with paintings by Pontormo.
DAY 6: Poggio a Caiano was the country retreat of Lorenzo il Magnifico, and a highly important monument in the history of grand country houses—at Carmignano is the exquisite Annunciation by Pontormo—Artimino is another Medici villa—lunch in the neighbouring village—Carthusian monastery at Galluzzo, with cloisters and paintings by Pontormo.
DAY 7: visit by special arrangement to the Teatro della Pergola (1828)—the Museo ‘Firenze com’era’ illustrates the history of Florence—fly from Pisa to London Gatwick, arriving c. 7.15 p.m.
Price: £1,590 (deposit £200)–this includes:–air travel (economy class) on scheduled British Airways flights (aircraft: Boeing 737)–private coach travel outside the city centre for the transfers and excursions–accommodation as described below–breakfasts, one lunch and three dinners with wine, water and coffee–admission for all the included visits–all tips for hotel and restaurant staff, drivers, etc.–all airport and government taxes–the services of the lecturer–single supplement £180–price without flights £1,460.
Hotel: a delightful, recently renovated 4-star hotel in a very central location–rooms are stylishly decorated–dinners are at selected restaurants nearby.
How strenuous? There is quite a lot of walking, and the tour would not be suitable for anyone who has any difficulties with everyday walking or stair-climbing, or standing for long periods of time in museums–average distance by coach per day: 24 miles.
Small group: between 8 and 18 participants.