The Wonders of Tuscany: Florence and Siena
EVENTS > STUDY TRIPS ABROAD
STUDY TRIP ABROAD
October 3–11 & 17–25, 2024
Optional Extension October 12–16
Return to the rich splendor of Italy’s heartland during this fantastic and focused Study Trip Abroad in Tuscany. Exploring Florence, Siena, and environs, travelers savor the intersection of history and beauty, from the majesty of the Medici court and its signature artistic output, to the Medieval magnificence of the region’s architecture. World-class museums, stunning galleries, and private tours occupy our days, while evening fêtes traditional to the Tuscan table astound our palettes. Our sweeping itinerary covering the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and beyond highlights the history, high art, and heritage of Tuscany as we encounter an influence that spread across all of Europe. This dazzling Italian adventure is sure to inspire and elevate the spirit, and even frequent visitors to Tuscany will have the opportunity to discover new sites.
ITINERARY (subject to amendment)
October 3 and 17
A cultural capital of Europe, Florence teems with captivating museums, architecture, and artisans. Bypassing the familiar and crowded, we focus our visits on insider destinations with exemplary collections. Gathering at the sublime Hotel Savoy, we enjoy an introductory lecture to set the stage for the exploration to follow. An orientation walking tour includes an introduction to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, which contains masterpieces of sculpture from the baptistry, cathedral, and campanile, including fine works by Donatello and Luca della Robbia. A welcome reception and dinner await us back at the hotel.
Included: R, D
October 4 and 18
Highlighting one of Florence’s most important artistic pursuits, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure introduces us to the extraordinary technique of painting with stone. Continuing to the Museo Stibbert, we gain an appreciation for the 19th-century Anglo-Florentine community’s focus on collecting fine and decorative arts. This rambling villa was built by the British-Italian antiquarian Frederick Stibbert. Departing the city for an afternoon in the countryside, we share lunch at Villa San Michele with views overlooking splendid gardens and Florence below. The Villa La Pietra was originally built in the 1460s for the Medici’s banker, Francesco Sassetti and features a wonderful Baroque interior from an early-18th-century renovation. It contains the important collection of Sir Harold Acton, another English devotee of Tuscan art and landscape. In the evening we are welcomed to a Baroque palace overlooking the Arno River for cocktails and dinner.
Included: B, L, R, D
October 5 and 19
Our morning begins at the Museo del Bargello, housed in a massive crenelated palace built in 1255 and containing a comprehensive illustration of Florentine Renaissance arts. Although best known for its sculpture holdings, the museum also features important ensembles of ceramics, clocks, and jewelry. The Museo Horne occupies a palazzo carefully restored by English art historian and architect Herbert Percy Horne to house his notable assemblage of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 14th–16th centuries. A tour of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi follows lunch. Constructed in the mid-15th century for Cosimo il Vecchio by his favorite architect, Michelozzo, the majestic Cappella dei Magi features frescoes created by Benozzo Gozzoli in 1459–63. We enjoy dinner at a highly regarded restaurant to toast the day’s pursuits.
Included: B, L, D
October 6 and 20
We start our final day in Florence at the exquisite mid-15th-century Palazzo Pitti, attributed to Brunelleschi and built for merchant Luca Pitti as a demonstration of fiscal might to his Medici rivals. Ironically, the palace was purchased by those very rivals a century later, and the interiors and collections in the royal apartments are a sight to behold. Following lunch at a private villa surrounded by a magnificent garden within the city walls, we admire the renowned early-15th-century frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel at Santa Maria del Carmine.
Included: R, L
October 7 and 21
Before saying arrivederci to Florence, we take a final opportunity to appreciate the city’s artistic traditions at Antico Setificio Fiorentino, which preserves silk weaving skills using handlooms dating back to the 18th century. Heading southward to Radda in Chianti, we are welcomed for lunch at the home of Trust members Sarah Coffin and Tom O’Connor, whose Tuscan retreat is surrounded by fields of coveted cashmere goats. Upon reaching Siena, we settle into our superb accommodations at the Grand Hotel Continental before venturing out for dinner at Villa di Geggiano, which still contains the Neoclassical furniture and French wallpaper and fabrics ordered for a 1760s renovation.
Included: B, L, D
October 8 and 22
Siena’s brick-built Medieval townscape beckons us for a morning walkabout that focuses on the Duomo, the earliest of the great Tuscan Gothic churches, and its associated Baptistery. The nearby Museo dell’Opera is housed within the unfinished Duomo Nuovo and contains the work of the celebrated Sienese artist Duccio di Buoninsegna. Across the piazza is the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala, with wonderful 15th-century frescoes illustrating the history and daily life of the hospital. Lunch is served at Le Logge, an excellent osteria with fine local cuisine. The Palazzo Publico, Siena’s impressive Gothic town hall, embodies the glory years of the 14th century and features the remarkable 100-meter-tall Torre del Mangia. Housed within the Renaissance Palazzo Piccolomini, the Archivo di Stato preserves one of the finest archival collections in Italy, including 13th-century municipal account books with fascinating painted covers depicting activities in the Medieval city.
Included: B, L
October 9 and 23
Our penultimate day of tours leads guests to the fortified hilltop town of Montalcino overlooking a wide panorama of a beautiful countryside laden with vines and olive groves. We appreciate the picturesque views from the 14th-century Sienese fortress, which was improved by ramparts funded by the Medici family in the late 16th century. Housed within the cloister of the Medieval Sant’Agostino is the Museo Civico e Diocesano, containing a fantastic collection of 13th–16th-century Sienese painting and sculpture. In a region renowned for Brunello di Montalcino, Fattoria dei Barbi has stood as a leading winery since the late 19th century. During a tour, wine tasting, and lunch, we learn to appreciate their mastery of the Sangiovese grape.
Included: B, L
October 10 and 24
Our final day starts with an unforgettable trip to the atmospheric Tuscan countryside, starting with the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore, one of the region’s most important monasteries and famous for its frescoes by Signorelli and Sodoma. The Castello di Cosona was developed in the 15th century as the fortified home of the powerful Tolomei family and offers a beautiful lunchtime view looking over the surrounding forests and farms. The charming town of Pienza is a marvel of Renaissance town planning with Rossellino’s beautifully preserved 15th-century Duomo. He was also responsible for the adjacent Palazzo Piccolomini, a masterwork of urban palace design with a magnificent interior courtyard. The tour concludes with a special closing dinner.
Included: B, L, D
October 11 and 25
Guests leave for stateside departures from the Florence airport or enjoy a day of rest before continuing to Bologna for the Optional Extension (Tour 1 only).
OPTIONAL EXTENSION: BOLOGNA AND RAVENNA
A sea of red tiled roofs punctuated by Medieval towers extends over a beautifully-colonnaded network of streetscapes in the ancient Etruscan city of Bologna. Although often overlooked by tourists, this center of food, music, and education boasts a high concentration of varied architectural styles from Roman to Gothic to Renaissance and beyond. Our four-night program delves into Bologna’s past with a day trip to nearby Ravenna to discover that city’s magical legacy as mainland Italy’s capital of Byzantine mosaics.
We gather in Bologna, the vibrant and historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. The elegant Grand Hotel Majestic sits in the heart of the city, set within an 18th-century palazzo designed for Cardinal Prospero Lambertini, who later became Pope. An introductory walking tour ends with a visit to the Collezioni Comunali d’Arte in Piazza Maggiore and is followed by dinner.
Included: L, D
The day begins with additional exploration of Bologna, including the monumental and ornate Palazzo Fantuzzi and the Archiginnasio, a 16th-century palace that is now home to the Municipal Library and the famed Teatro Anatomico, dating to 1636. The Classical façade of the Palazzo Hercolani belies an opulent Rococo interior filled with frescoes and chinoiserie decoration popular in the 18th century. After a relaxing lunch, we venture to the Palazzo Bachiocchi, famed as the home of Elisa Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon and briefly Grand Duchess of Tuscany. A visit to the Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica permits us to appreciate Bologna’s rich musical heritage within some of the city’s finest Neoclassical interiors.
Included: B, L
Charting a course eastward, we pause in Faenza to take in the remarkably intact Palazzo Milzetti and the Teatro Masini, a stunning Italian-style theater. We continue to Ravenna and savor the beautiful historic district on foot. The Basilica of San Vitale, at 1,400 years old, showcases best-in-the-west mosaics and was built as the prototype for Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia. The remainder of the afternoon is devoted to the city’s ancient Roman roots. The Tomba di Galla Placidia, the Baptisterio Neoniano, and the Museo Arcivescovile are UNESCO World Heritage sites and superb examples of early Christian monuments with mosaics from Late Antiquity.
Included: B, L
Our day is filled with privileged access to historic homes west of Bologna. We walk in the footsteps of kings, queens, musicians, writers, and adventurers to grand palazzos surrounded by centuries-old parkland. Our equally sumptuous afternoon includes lunch at the privately-held Villa Garagnani, where we dine amid colorful trompe l’oeil frescoes. A visit to a Neoclassical villa in private hands precedes a celebratory closing dinner at the glorious 16th-century Villa La Paleotta, bringing our Bolognese adventure to a stylish close.
Included: B, L, D
Guests leave for stateside departures or continue to Florence for Tour 2.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Land Arrangement Cost: $9,275 per person, based on double occupancy for 8 nights. For the Optional Extension, $4,100 per person, based on double occupancy for 4 nights.
Included in Trip Cost: Hotel accommodations in 4-and 5-star hotels, 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 2 receptions, and 5 dinners for the Main Tour and 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 2 dinners for the Extension. Private coach transportation; local guides; admission in museums, historic houses, and gardens; gratuities for professional guides and coach drivers; and porterage.
Not Included in the Trip Cost: Airfare, airport transfers other than specified above, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included. Transatlantic airfare is not included. Please do not make your airline reservations until you have received written confirmation of your registration from the Trust.
Reservations: A deposit of $2,500 per person for the Main Tour and $1,000 per person for the Extension is required at time of registration. Reservations and deposits are taken on an as-received basis. You will receive written confirmation from the Trust when we receive your registration.
Single Supplement: The single supplement is $2,285 for the Main Tour and $650 for the Extension, to be paid with the final balance.
Final Payment: Will be due by June 30, 2024.
Membership: Membership at the Sponsor level is required for participation in Study Trips Abroad. Your membership contribution is tax-deductible. If an increase in your membership level is necessary, the Trust will invoice you for the appropriate level upgrade with your final payment.
Contribution: A $500 donation to the Trust per person is required for Study Trips Abroad. This gift is fully tax deductible and helps support the Trust’s mission and programs.
Itinerary: The schedule outlined in this itinerary is contracted at this time but subject to change as necessary.
Participation: The trip is limited to a maximum of 25 members and requires a minimum of 15. The trip will be canceled if under-subscribed, and deposits will be refunded. While proof of COVID-19 vaccination is not required, participants should be prepared to test and wear masks when requested.
Activity Level: The Trust’s Study Trip Abroad itineraries are planned with care and attention to detail to ensure a memorable and rewarding trip for all participants. This itinerary is strenuous and includes standing for long periods of time, walking on uneven surfaces, and ascending and descending stairs without handrails. Please consider if this program is suited for your health, physical condition, and individual circumstances.
Cancellation and Refunds: If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to the Trust. All cancellations are subject to a $500 administrative fee per person. Deposits are non-refundable after March 31, 2024. Cancellations arriving by July 16, 2024, will receive a 50% refund. Cancellations arriving by August 21, 2024, will receive a 25% refund. There will be no refunds for cancellations received after August 21, 2024. The Trust strongly encourages all participants to purchase travel insurance to protect against cancellations due to illness, injury, and disruptions caused by the pandemic.