Florence in the Serene Season

Florence in the Serene Season

Experience the true essence of beautiful Florence during a quieter time of year on this seven-night, small-group journey! Stroll through the city’s intimate streets and romantic piazzas, a veritable outdoor museum of Renaissance glories, and take more time to enjoy Michelangelo’s David and the Uffizi’s priceless art without the high-season crowds. Admire the eye-catching, ornate Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, topped by Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome, and cross the Arno River by way of the Ponte Vecchio. At one of the city’s oldest cafés, delve into the social rituals behind Italy’s passion for coffee. Venture into rural Tuscany and take in the medieval brilliance of hill towns San Gimignano, Colle di Val d’Elsa and Siena. Sip Italy’s iconic wine in the breathtaking Chianti countryside, plus watch and learn as a local chef whips up an authentic Tuscan lunch! A generous meal plan and wine with dinner are included. Simply unpack once at your deluxe hotel and savor la dolce vita!

 

Trip Itinerary:

November 26 Depart gateway city

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Florence, Italy. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: FLR.

If you have purchased only the Land Program, please book flights that arrive on Day 2, the first day of the Land Program. The date is listed at the top of your Reservation Confirmation.

November 27 Florence, Italy

Arrive at Florence Airport, Peretola. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer to the Sina Villa Medici. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

This afternoon, join a short orientation walk around the hotel to get acquainted with the neighborhood.

Tonight, meet your fellow travelers during a Welcome Reception and Dinner in the hotel.

Accommodations – Sina Villa Medici
Meals – Dinner

November 28 Florence

Start each morning with a delicious breakfast at the Sina Villa Medici.

Discovery: Florence Walk.
Activity level: Moderate
With your guide, stroll through the premier city of the Italian Renaissance. Stand before the stupendous Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, intricately clad in white, pink and green marble and topped by Brunelleschi’s red-tiled dome. The first stone was placed in 1296 and by the time it was completed in the 15th century, it was the largest church in Europe. Towering to the right is Giotto’s impressive campanile, or bell tower, from the 14th century. Opposite the cathedral stands the octagonal Baptistery, fronted by gilded bronze doors featuring Old Testament scenes sculpted by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Michelangelo was so impressed with their beauty that he likened them to the Gates of Paradise. After exploring around the Piazza del Duomo, make your way to the Arno River and cross the iconic Ponte Vecchio, lined with jewelry shops. Then linger in the Piazza della Signoria, the city’s political heart since the 14th century. The majestic Palazzo Vecchio, the Fountain of Neptune and the graceful statues within an open-air loggia add to the ambience.

Afterward, sit down for a refreshing lunch and conversation at a neighborhood restaurant.

Free Time: Strike off on your own to explore. If you would like suggestions or need help with arrangements, your Travel Director will be on hand to assist. And no trip to Florence would be complete without savoring some creamy, handmade gelato, so find time to squeeze in a sweet treat! Dig into traditional varieties like lemon, hazelnut and chocolate-flaked stracciatella, or try innovative flavors such as lavender, Black Forest cake and salted caramel.

Accommodations – Sina Villa Medici
Meals – Breakfast and Lunch

November 29 Chianti | San Gimignano

Discovery: Chianti.
Activity level: Moderate
On your first excursion into rural Tuscany, journey to the captivating Chianti region, an idyllic vision of quiet back roads, lovely hillside towns, woodlands and, of course, vineyards. Travel to the Castello di Monsanto, an elegant winery built in 1750. Taste wines produced from handpicked Sangiovese, Canaiolo and other grapes.

Enjoy a relaxing lunch break at a restaurant in the area.

Discovery: San Gimignano.
Activity level: Moderate
Head next to this picturesque Tuscan hill town, which boasts 14 beautifully preserved medieval tower-houses that create a striking skyline over the Elsa Valley. In the 13th century, feuding noble families built them for defensive purposes, but many also competed to build the highest towers to show off their wealth and power. As you follow your guide along the red-brick lanes, imagine what medieval San Gimignano must have looked like with its original 72 towers! Other highlights of this UNESCO World Heritage site include a Romanesque cathedral and the Piazza della Cisterna, where locals have gathered around a charming old well since the Middle Ages.

Free Time: Make your own plans after returning to the hotel. Perhaps you’ll seek out some of the region’s pasta specialties for dinner tonight. Florentine favorites include tagliolini with truffles, tortelli stuffed with potato, pappardelle served with ragu sauce and thick pici, a spaghetti-like noodle, generously tossed with garlic and oil. Buon appetito! Accommodations – Sina Villa Medici
Meals – Breakfast and Lunch

November 30 Florence

Enrichment: Renaissance Art.
Learn how Italian painting and sculpture evolved during this period of cultural blossoming that revived classical traditions with a focus on the individual and the beauty of the natural world.

Discovery: Accademia Gallery.
Activity level: Moderate
Visit the Accademia, one of the city’s most celebrated museums, which houses Michelangelo’s awe-inspiring David. Commissioned for the cathedral in 1501, the 17-foot-tall marble sculpture was eventually installed in front of the Palazzo Vecchio by the Florentine government in 1504. A copy now sits in Piazza della Signoria, and the gleaming original takes center stage in one of the Accademia’s galleries. Other exhibition rooms contain Italian masterpieces of canvas and sculpture created between the mid-13th and late 16th centuries and an important collection of musical instruments from the late 17th to the early 19th centuries. Admire precisely crafted pieces by Antonio Stradivari, one of the world’s greatest luthiers, and Bartolomeo Cristofori, the inventor of the piano.

Free Time: The remainder of the day is yours to plan! For a marvelous, sweeping view over Florence, head across the Arno and travel up the hillside to Piazzale Michelangelo in the San Niccolò neighborhood.

Accommodations – Sina Villa Medici
Meals – Breakfast

December 1 Florence

Enrichment: Contemporary Italy and Life in Florence.
Attend an engaging discussion of Italy’s place in the European Union and current political, economic and social trends affecting the city and country.

Discovery: Italian Coffee and Café Culture.
Activity level: Moderate
At one of Florence’s oldest cafés, delve into the social rituals behind the national passion for coffee. Learn how favorite choices are prepared and served, then relish a classic drink and pastry.

Discovery: Uffizi Gallery.
Activity level: Moderate
This afternoon, visit the Uffizi Gallery, home to one of the world’s most incomparably rich art collections. The original building was planned in 1559 by Cosimo I de’Medici, the grand duke of Tuscany, as offices, or uffizi, for local magistrates. His successor converted it into a repository for the extraordinary art amassed by previous Medici rulers and princes, who were prolific collectors. Trace the development of Florentine art from the formal Gothic era of the 13th and 14th centuries, to the realism of the early Renaissance in the 15th century, to the High Renaissance and Mannerist periods of the 16th century.

Share the day’s highlights with your fellow travelers over a dinner of tasty Florentine fare.

Accommodations – Sina Villa Medici
Meals – Breakfast and Dinner

December 2 Colle di Val d’Elsa | Siena

Discovery: Colle di Val d’Elsa.
Activity level: Moderate
Today’s full-day excursion into Tuscany begins in this hill town renowned for its centuries-old tradition of crystal glass production. Set above the Elsa River valley, it’s situated along the ancient Via Francigena, a route frequented by pilgrims and merchants traveling from northern Europe to Rome during the Middle Ages. Meander through the old town with your guide to see its charming medieval architecture.

After your tour, a local chef demonstrates how to cook like Tuscans do, then you get to enjoy the mouthwatering results for lunch!

Discovery: Siena.
Activity level: Moderate
Journey next to this gorgeous city, bathed in a rose-pink glow and remarkably unchanged since the Middle Ages. On a walking tour, step into one of Europe’s finest piazzas, the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, known as “Il Campo.” Gaze up at the Torre del Mangia, Siena’s skyscraper that towers more than 280 feet over the square, and pause by the Gaia, or Joyful, fountain to see its pretty, bas-relief sculptures. Twice a year, this piazza is packed with excited spectators, galloping horses and colorful pageantry for the thrilling Palio race, when the districts of Siena, known as contrade, passionately cheer on their respective jockeys and horses. Just west of the piazza, visit Siena’s breathtaking Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, one of the best examples of the Italian Gothic style with an ornate sculptural façade designed by Giovanni Pisano.

Free Time: Spend some time exploring Siena’s atmospheric streets. Maybe you’ll stop for a taste of two Sienese treats: panforte, filled with dried fruit and nuts, and ricciarelli, chewy almond cookies.

Accommodations – Sina Villa Medici
Meals – Breakfast and Lunch

December 3 Florence

Free Time: Enjoy a full day of exploring Florence and its environs! Consider a trip to the Pitti Palace to see the sumptuous Palatine Gallery and Royal Apartments, where the Medici, Lorraine and Savoy families once resided.

Then take a rejuvenating rest in the serene Boboli Gardens, one of Florence’s first Renaissance gardens, elegantly arrayed with statues, fountains and grottoes.

Artistic treasures abound in the city’s numerous churches. The Medici Chapels feature Michelangelo’s acclaimed marble pairs, Day and Night, and Dawn and Dusk, reclining over the tombs of two prominent Medici nobles. The Chapels are part of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the city’s original cathedral, which includes magnificent bronze pulpits by Donatello. Just a short stroll away is the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. The Tornabuoni Chapel inside is decorated with important frescoes by Domenico Girlandaio and his assistants. East of the Piazza Signoria, a leisurely walk leads you to the Basilica of Santa Croce. Adorned with exquisite Renaissance art, this Franciscan church is also the burial place of many illustrious Italians, including Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli.

Tonight, over an aperitif in the hotel’s garden, celebrate your wonderful sojourn in Florence with your fellow travelers, then enjoy a Farewell Dinner together.

Accommodations – Sina Villa Medici
Meals – Breakfast and Dinner

December 4 Depart for gateway city

After breakfast, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Florence Airport, Peretola, for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Meals – Breakfast

NOTE: Itinerary may change due to local conditions.

Map:


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