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Florence & Tuscany | A Grand Tour 9 Days / 8 Nights

Florence & Tuscany | A Grand Tour 9 Days / 8 Nights

Florence & Tuscany | A Grand Tour 9 Days / 8 Nights

Florence & Tuscany | A Grand Tour 9 Days / 8 Nights

Florence & Tuscany | A Grand Tour 9 Days / 8 Nights

Florence & Tuscany | A Grand Tour 9 Days / 8 Nights

Florence & Tuscany | A Grand Tour 9 Days / 8 Nights

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Florence & Tuscany | A Grand Tour

Art & Architecture, Landscape & Gastronomy in Central Italy

During your 9 day Expert-led tour of Florence and Tuscany, you will be fully immersed in the beauty of Italy’s finest Renaissance art, architecture and unspoilt countryside. All whilst enjoying some of the region's best food and drink.

Cradle of the Renaissance and birthplace of the Early Modern Age, Florence is an enchanting city, brimming with some of the world's finest art and architecture.

As you explore the city with your Expert, viewing great works of art at the Uffizi Gallery or gazing upon Brunelleschi’s Cathedral dome (or any of the city’s other artistic achievements), Florence's incredible past will be brought to life.

Outside of Florence, you will explore enchanting towns and villages, with the opportunity to take in iconic landmarks such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Siena’s Piazza del Campo, among many others.

Travelling onwards, through Tuscany’s untouched countryside, you will experience the Chianti region. With its pretty towns, passion for gastronomy and noble wines, Chianti offers boundless pleasure for those seeking delicious Italian food and drink!

Your hotels have been selected for their charm, quality of service and location, making your stay one of comfort and relaxation.

For meals included (please see Itinerary page), authentic restaurants, serving high quality food and wine, have been selected.

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DAY 1 Pisa - Lucca

Afternoon | Welcome Lunch with Introduction to Florence & Tuscany Tour followed by Tour of Pisa

The tour starts with a Welcome Lunch in an authentic Tuscan restaurant with Introduction to the tour by your Expert.

After lunch, your afternoon begins in Pisa, where your Expert will introduce this historic art town. Made famous by its Leaning Tower, Pisa is situated on the Arno River, the most important river of central italy after the Tiber.

Up until the  end of the Roman Empire, Pisa was a naval base and commercial port, becoming an independent maritime republic by the end of the 9th century. From the 11th century, Pisa's power and influence continued to grow, becoming one of the four most powerful Maritime Republics of Italy.

During the 13th century, Pisa came under Florentine rule, when the powerful Medici’ family took control of the city. They were especially intrigued by its most famous son, the astronomer and physicist, Galileo Galilei.

The focal point of the entire city is the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles). Spectacular at first glance, with the emerald-green lawns contrasting beautifully with the stark white marble of its historic religious buildings, it is here that you will be able to admire the world famous Leaning Tower, the Duomo (Cathedral) and Baptistery.

Begun in 1173 and completed in 1350, the Leaning Tower, cylindrical in shape, with small arcades and rounded arches, began to lean shortly after its construction due to the softness of the wet sandy terrain, resulting in the fascinating monument you see today.

The Duomo and Baptistery were built over 500 years ago. A circular, all marble, Renaissance building, the Baptistery is in perfect condition and combines Moorish, Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles.

Transfer to your hotel in Lucca.

Evening | Dinner in Lucca

Overnight | Lucca 

Meals included: L, D

 

DAY 2 Lucca - Florence

Morning | Tour of Lucca

After breakfast your Expert will guide you through the art town of Lucca.

Situated in the centre of a fertile plain, Lucca has a rich heritage of churches, palaces, squares and streets untouched by modernity.

A colony of Ancient Rome its Roman Legacy is still evident today, preserved in the regular grid patterns of its streets. Enclosed within massive red brick walls built between 1504 and 1645 (which are considered the best preserved Renaissance defenses in Europe), the traffic and other elements of the modern world are kept at bay, enabling Lucca to hold on to its special character and remain a truly peaceful city. 

The guided tour of the town starts in the square where the ancient Roman Amphitheatre and the Cathedral dedicated to St. Martin are located. The tour includes the ramparts, a promenade that runs along the top of the city walls. 

Afternoon | Long Lunch in Lucca | Transfer to Florence | Visit of the Academy of Fine Arts and Florence Cathedral, Giotto's Bell Tower and Baptistery

After lunch, transfer to Florence.

Under Medici family rule, Florence prospered, creating the conditions that led to the birth of Humanism, a movement that emphasized the role of knowledge and reason over church authority, and the Renaissance, a revolutionary artistic movement which broke with the Gothic past and marked the beginning of the Early Modern Age.

Your first stop in Florence will be the Academy of Fine Arts (Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze). With masterpieces by Michelangelo on display, the academy offers an excellent overview of his artisitc genius. The main gallery contains the powerful figures of the Unfinished Prisoners, who seem to be struggling to free themselves from the hard crystalline marble, whilst the highlight is the statue of David, his ultimate sculptural masterpiece. Symbolising youth and force it is a perfect depiction of humanism in art form.

Next you will visit the Giotto Tower,  Baptistery and Florence Cathedral (Duomo) before returning to your centrally located hotel.

The Duomo, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Baptistery form an admirable ensemble of coloured marble monuments, each demonstrating the traditions of Florentine art from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Built in the gothic style, Florence's cathedral (Il Duomo di Firenze - Santa Maria del Fiore), is an an outstanding example of Florentine architecture and symbol of the city’s power and wealth during the 12th and 13th centuries. Giotto’s Bell Tower (Campanile), is the perfect complement to Brunelleschi’s dome. The Baptistery, encased in white and green marble, is designed in a well-balanced Romanesque style and its bronze doors are renowned as important works of art.

Transfer to your hotel, followed by dinner.

Evening | Dinner in Florence

Overnight | Florence

Meals included: B, D

 

DAY 3 Florence

Morning | Visit San Marco Museum and Santa Maria Novella Church

Today starts with a visit to San Marco Museum which occupies a vast area of the Dominican convent of San Marco. Founded in 1436 and built by the architect Michelozzo, the convent played an important role in the religious and cultural life of the city as evidenced by the story of Girolamo Savonarola, the Dominican friar and puritan fanatic, who became dictator of Florence when the Medici were temporarily driven out in 1494. 

The fame of the museum is mostly due to the Beato Angelico paintings. One of the greatest Renaissance painters, Angelico painted much of the convent’s interior. Other works by Angelico are also on display, making San Marco Museum one of the best places to view the painter’s work. Also important, are the 16th Century collections by Fra Bartolomeo and the exhibition dedicated to artefacts from Florence's old town.

Next you will visit Santa Maria Novella church. Home to some of the most groundbreaking early Renaissance frescoes, including some of the first uses of perspective in Renaissance art (perspective is the technique used to represent three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface such as paper or canvas in a way that looks natural and realistic).

Work began on the church in 1246 and was completed in 1360. The famous green and white marble façade was built in two very different styles; the facade's lower half was constructed in the Tuscan Romanesque style by Fra' Jacopo Talenti, whilst the upper half was added in 1456–70 by the great Renaissance architectural theorist Leon Battista Alberti. Alberti managed to put his Neoclassical stamp firmly on the building, whilst ‘melding’ it seamlessly to the Romanesque bottom half.

Afternoon | Lunch followed by visit to Basilica di Santo Spirito, Brancacci Chapel and San Lorenzo Church & Medici Chapels

After lunch the first stop is Basilica di Santo Spirito, one of the most important basilicas of the early Renaissance period. Located in the Oltrarno district, it has an unmistakable façade overlooking the main square. Built on the ruins of the 13th Century Augustinian convent, it was the last masterpiece by Filippo Brunelleschi (although completed after his death in 1446).

The church’s main altar was built by Giovanni Caccini (1599-1607) in the Baroque style with the collaboration of Gherardo Silvani and Agostino Ubaldini. 

Next you will vist the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, where the Brancacci Chapel contains the famous frescoes; The Life of St. Peter. Commissioned in around the year 1424 by the Florentine merchant, Felice Brancacci, the Italian painter Masolino da Panicale began the works in 1425 and were later completed by his pupils, Masaccio and Filippino Lippi in 1480.  Masaccio’s use of perspective in The Tribute Money and the tragic realism of his figures in The Expulsion of Adam and Eve, placed him at the vanguard of Renaissance painting. Many great artists, including Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo later visited the chapel to study his pioneering work.

Moving onwards to San Lorenzo Church and the Medici Chapels, you will have the opportunity to visit this monumental complex considered to be the "official" church of the Medici family, including a 17th century Medici family mausoleum. Today a museum, it includes the 16th century New Sacristy chapels (Sagrestia Nuova) which combine dynamic architecture with outstanding sculpture, providing ample evidence of Michelangelo’s genius. The square ground-plan, covered by a half-dome, was clearly inspired by Brunelleschi's dome for the Old Sacristy. Michelangelo added a mezzanine below the coffered dome, to bring a dynamic quality to the room.

Evening | Dinner in Florence

Overnight | Florence

Meals included: B, L

 

 

DAY 4 Florence

Morning | Highlights of Florence including Palazzo della Signoria and the Uffizi Galleries

Today you will explore Florence's highlights starting with Palazzo della Signoria. Better known as Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo della Signoria has been the symbol of Florence’s civic power for over seven centuries. Built between the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century to house the city’s supreme governing bodies, the Priori delle Arti and the Gonfalonier of Justice, it has over time been subject to a series of extensions and transformations. Its current appearance is mainly due to splendid restoration work and interior decoration carried out in the mid-16th Century to adapt the building to its new function as a ducal palace (as ordered by Cosimo I de’ Medici).

One of the finest art museums in the world, this is an opportunity to enjoy some of the greatest universally acclaimed sculptures and paintings within the Renaissance Collections. Assembled by several generations of the Medicis, here you can follow the evolution of Italian art from its beginnings to the end of the 17th century.

Next stop is the Uffizi Gallery, the oldest gallery in the world. Housed in a Renaissance palace, the Uffizi Gallery, designed by Vasari in 1560, was once the offices (Uffizi) of the Medici administration. Containing a rich collection of drawings, paintings and sculpture, exhibited over two separate floors, you will be able to admire works of art from various Italian artists, including Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Adoration of the Magi and Primavera, as well as The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, Tondo Doni by Michelangelo and the Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael.

Afternoon | Lunch followed by 'Highlights of Florence' Guided Tour including Ponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace & the Boboli Gardens

Built very close to a Roman crossing, il Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) was, until 1218, the only bridge across the river Arno in Florence. Rebuilt after a flood in 1345, it survived World War II as it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead the Germans blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side. On 4th November 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of water and silt when the Arno once again burst its banks.

Pitti Palace is a 15th century Renaissance building, built by the architect, Brunelleschi, for the Pitti family, the staunch rivals of the Medicis.  Ironically, the Medicis later purchased the palazzo when building costs bankrupted the Pitti’s family heirs.  In 1550 it became the Medici’s main residence and subsequent residence of all rulers of Florence.

The Palatine Gallery occupies the whole left wing of the first floor, which was the residence of the Medici Grand Dukes. In 1828, when Tuscany came under the rule of the Lorraine family, the most important paintings in the Palace were hung in the Gallery. It is an impressive collection comprising works by Raphael, Titian, Correggio, Rubens and Pietro da Cortona, as well as other Italian and European masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The paintings, which are sumptuously framed, cover the walls of the rooms in the style of traditional 17th-century picture galleries. The way they are hung, along with the rich plaster and fresco decoration of the suite of six rooms which overlook the piazza, give the Gallery its unique ambience.

Opened to the public in 1766, the Boboli Gardens are laid out in the Renaissance style and play host to a distinguished collection of sculptures dating from the 16th through to the 18th century, as well as several Roman antiquities. Designed for Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de' Medici, the first stage of the gardens initiated by Niccolo Tribolo before his death in 1550. It was continued by Bartolomeo Ammanati, with contributions from Giorgio Vasari, who laid out the grottos, whilst Bernardo Buontalenti was responsible for the sculptures. 

Evening | Dinner in Florence 

Overnight | Florence

Meals included: B, D

 

DAY 5 Florence - Volterra - San Gimignano - Siena

Morning | Explore the Chianti Region

You will depart Florence to explore the enchanting region of Chianti. First inhabited by the Etruscans and then later the Romans, Chianti is a rich area of woods, water and game, resembling a highland of hills and undulating terrain.

Magical and mysterious, the city of Volterra is your first stop in the region. Everywhere, it is possible to find traces from its entire 3,000 years of history, including the Museo Etrusco Guarnacci, which contains one of the best collections of Etrsucan artifacts. The city conserves its Medieval past, not only with its 12th century city walls, but also because of its palaces, tower houses and churches built within an urban layout with narrow streets. The Renaissance period is well represented with the superb palaces of Minucci Solaini, Incontri-Viti, Inghirami, the imposing Fortezza Medicea and Convent of San Girolamo, which blend seamlessly into the Medieval city.

Next stop is San Gimignano. Located in the heart of the Chianti region, this charming medieval town stands on a hilltop in the rolling Tuscan countryside, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Situated on the main pilgrim route from northern Europe to Rome, the town prospered in medieval times and as it grew in wealth, its nobility built numerous towers, which earned the town the nickname, "San Gimignano of the Fine Towers". 

Departing San Gimignano you will stop for lunch at the medieval walled town of Monteriggioni before proceeding to your hotel in Siena.

Evening | Dinner in Siena

Overnight | Siena

Meals included: B, L

 

DAY 6 Siena  - Abbey of Sant'Antimo - Montalcino

Morning | Beloved Siena

This morning you will visit 'beloved' Siena. More than anywhere else in Tuscany, Siena brings to life the reality of the medieval city with its narrow Gothic streets lined with palaces and mansions, that converge on the famous Piazza del Campo.

Your local Expert will show you the most important sights, including the Cathedral (Duomo) which is famous for its unique exterior paving; about forty artists worked on the 56 marble panels, portraying in delicate drawings of mythological figures such as Sibyls, Virtues and Allegories, as well as scenes from the Old Testament. 

Afternoon | Lunch at leisure | Visits to Sant’Antimo Abbey and Montalcino

Southern Tuscany. After a long lunch you depart Siena for the Abbey of Sant'Antimo (Abbazia di Sant'Antimo), located about 10km south of Montalcino in southern Tuscany. A beautiful Romanesque church, picture-perfect Sant'Antimo sits in a large valley with views of the town of Castelnuovo dell'Abate and the rolling Tuscan hills that are covered in olive groves, vineyards and wild forests. The church dates from the 12th century and is considered one of the finest Romanesque religious buildings in Italy.

Next a short transfer to Montalcino. 

It is difficult to believe that Montalcino, one of the prettiest hill towns in Tuscany, was once used as a pawn in the struggle for power between Florence and Siena. A feud that initiated Montalcino's centuries-long decline, only ending with the creation of the world class wine, il Brunello di Montalcino.

Despite its stormy past, the town, which was founded in the early 10th century, remains unspoiled and rich in history. Located south of Siena in isolated and steep countryside and nestled inside a protective wall, Montalcino maintains its picturesque charm.  

You will experience a private visit of a winery in the area followed by dinner.

Evening | Dinner in Montalcino

Overnight | Siena

Meals included: B, D

 

DAY 7 Siena - Chianti Region

Full Day | Exploring the Chianti Region 

Your day will start heading North, exploring Castellina in Chianti first and continuing then through to the Tuscan small towns of Radda and Gaiole.

Defining the Chianti Region. Between Florence, Siena and Arezzo sits Chianti, a charming hill-covered region surrounded by the main cities of art in the region. The name "Chianti", synonymous all around the world with wine producing excellence, is currently used to identify several different areas of the territory, so it is a good idea to clarify what the term means. Geographically speaking, Chianti is a hilly land that stretches for about 20 km, from North to South. The highest point is Monte San Michele, at 893 metres above sea level. The rivers Pesa, Greve, Ombrone, Staggia and Arbia rivers cross and define the area. From a historical point of view, the name "in Chianti" should be given only to the municipalities of Gaiole, Radda and Castellina that were part of the ancient "Florentine Military League of Chianti", whose symbol was a black rooster. More recently, due to the Italian wine regulation, the word "Chianti" refers also to the to San Casciano and Tavarnelle in Val di Pesa, Greve and part of Barberino Val D'Elsa, as well as the Sienese areas of Castelnuovo, Berardenga and Poggibonsi. Only wines produced within these municipalities can be named "Chianti Classico" and are certified with the famous Black Rooster symbol.

Lunch | Lunch in Badia a Coltibuono followed by Castelnuovo

Wine tasting and Lunch at Badia a Coltibuono, continuing on to towards Castelnuovo for the visit of Castello di Brolio Museum.

Today’s tour ends back at hotel with leisure time before dinner.

Evening | Dinner at hotel

Overnight | Siena

Meals included: B, L

 

DAY 8 Siena - Pienza - Bagno Vignone - Montepulciano

Morning | Pienza & Bagno Vignone

Leaving the hotel through the Creti Senesi (a beautiful landscape of hills and woods) you will reach Pienza, a beautiful Renaissance town with spectacular panoramic views overlooking the Orcia river valley and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. Thanks to its position, Pienza was of great importance during the Middle Ages preserves its medieval character and several art treasures. 

You will then visit the ancient village of Bagno Vignoni, located in the heart of the Val d'Orcia Nature Reserve. With its thermal waters used since Roman times, as it was on the main route taken by pilgrims to Rome, later the Medici built a medieval spa. At the heart of the village is the "Square of sources", a 16th century rectangular tank, which contains water that originates form the subterranean permeable rock.

Next you will visit the hill town of Montepulciano. Close to Siena and standing high atop a hill in southern Tuscany, Montepulciano is a town full of elegant Renaissance palaces, medieval churches and piazzas, hidden corners that boast vast panoramas over the wonderful Val d'Orcia Nature Reserve and Val di Chiana valleys that surround it.

As you walk through Montepulciano you will be view  its beautiful landmarks, as well as enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside which are covered by vineyards that produce the famous Nobile grape variety.

Afternoon | Lunch in Montepulciano and return to hotel

Lunch in Montepulciano before returning to the hotel. Time at leisure before your Farewell Dinner.

Evening | Farewell Dinner

Overnight | Siena

Meals included: B, D

 

Day 9 Siena

Morning | Breakfast, End of Tour*

Meals included: B

*Please advise your Grand Cultural Tours representative if you require transfers

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  • 8  nights in 4 star hotel accommodation with breakfast

  • 4  lunches* (1 in the winery)  and  5 dinners*

  • The services of a professional Tour Manager and Expert Guide from start to finish

  • All transfers in high-quality air-conditioned coaches

  • All entrances and admittances fees

 

Not included

  • Flights

  • Cancellation, medical and travel  insurance

 

* All included lunches and dinners are three courses and include 1/3 to ½ bottle of wine, tea/coffee, water and juice

Local Expert Guides

Local Expert Guides

Our Local Expert Guides are experienced licenced tour guides with special access to museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions. 

Professional and gifted communicators with unparalleled local knowledge, each one specialises in bringing the past to life. 

For more information about our Expert Guides, please contact us on 020 8877 2883 to speak with a Grand Cultural Tours representative.

Hotel

Hand-picked 4 star hotels in Lucca, Florence and Tuscan rural Estate (near Siena), selected for their location and high quality accommodation and service levels.

 

Passports and Visas

For general information regarding passport validity for UK citizens, please refer to the Foreign Office website

A Visa is not required by UK citizens to enter Italy. 

 

Foreign Office Travel Advice including Health & Safety Information

Click here for general Foreign Office travel advice.

 

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a pre-requisite for booking this tour. If you do not currently have travel insurance and would like to contact our partner travel insurance company, please click here for more details.

 

Currency

The currency of Italy is the Euro. 

 

Weather

Click here for annual weather averages for Florence.

 

Reading list

 

Flight Duration

2 hours 15 minutes (departing from London)

Dates & Prices

Start Date(s) Price excluding flights* Single supplement

* Please click here for more information regarding flights for this tour.