The Medici in Florence

The Medici in Florence

Led by Historian Marcello Bellini

March 20-27, 2023
October 7-14, 2023

Piazza della Signoria, Florence

Overview

The Medici Family is synonymous with Renaissance Florence. Through their successes in the wool trade and banking in the 15th century, they amassed fortunes and gained significant power in Florentine civic life. Cosimo the Elder rose to power in 1434 as unofficial head of the Florentine Republic and began to invest in the arts and humanities. One of his first projects was hiring architect Michelozzo to build his prototypical palazzo, today Palazzo Medici-Ricardi in the city center. His grandson, Lorenzo the Magnificent surpassed his ancestors with his fascination with the arts and extensive patronage of artists such as Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and da Vinci. The historic legacy of buildings, monuments and great works of art created under the Medici in the city, led to Florence flourishing into the epi-center of the Renaissance. In addition to wealth and artistic patronage, the Medici also held significant influence and family ties throughout Italy and the continent; they produced four popes and were linked through marriage and strategic alliances to many rulers and European royal families. This 8-day tour to Florence will look at the impact the family had on the artistic world, sciences, thought and religion of 15th-century Florence. Explore the legacy of their wealth, and their political power while placing it in the context of daily life in Renaissance Florence. Filled with in-depth talks, behind-the-scenes visits, and excellent Italian food (some of it inspired by historic recipes), this tour will appeal to any history buff fascinated by one of the key families of Europe.

Highlights

  • Discover the art of the Renaissance with visits to the Uffizi Gallery, including a private visit to the Vasari Corridor (subject to confirmation), and admire the mastery of Michelangelo’s sculpture
  • Savor seasonal specialties and local dishes during leisurely meals, including a menu inspired by Renaissance recipes
  • Spend a day in the Tuscan hills visiting several Medici country villa retreats
  • Gain insight into daily life in Renaissance Florence with visits to Palaces and the costume collection
  • Look into the night sky on an evening visit to the Arcetri Observatory and discuss Galileo’s astronomical discoveries
  • Enjoy in-depth talks and discussions focused on the lives of prominent Florentines (from artists and architects to scientists and religious leaders) and the influence of the Medici family on Renaissance Florence
Trip Historian Marcello Bellini

Trip Historian

Marcello Bellini

Marcello Bellini was born and studied in Florence.  He graduated in law, summa cum laude from the University of Florence in 1970. His minor thesis was on “Machiavelli and Guicciardini, and the Historiography of the Renaissance”. After his law degree, he realized his passion lay in the study of local history and he began teaching Renaissance history for many US universities (including Stanford and Vanderbilt) and local institutions such Lorenzo dei Medici, The British Institute and Florence University of the Arts. Marcello Bellini has also published widely on the Medici rule in Florence including the decoration of the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. He has trained many local guides for the Florence province. Marcello enjoys bringing the lives and stories of Florence’s most famous family alive, as you wander the historic streets and buildings of the city.

Itinerary

Arrive in Florence today and transfer independently to the Grand Hotel Cavour, located a short walk from the Duomo. Take a guided walking tour of the historical center. Gather with fellow travelers for a welcome dinner at a typical trattoria.

Included Meal: Dinner
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour

After breakfast, join your expert for an introductory talk on the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Ferdinando II. Walk through the heart of Florence to Palazzo Davanzati, a typical Renaissance palace. After lunch at a local restaurant, we will visit two Medici residences this afternoon. The Palazzo Medici Riccardi, designed by Michelozzo in 1494 as a family residence for Cosimo the Elder was regarded by many Florentines at the time as overtly sumptuous. Inside, admire Benozzo Gozzoli’s frescoes depicting the Medici family with many illustrious personalities of the period. Continue to Palazzo Vecchio. Originally the building was the seat of the Florentine Republic in the 14th-century and then the political center of the Medici Dukes before the family moved across the Arno to Palazzo Pitti. Evening at leisure.

Included Meal: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour

This morning, learn about the Renaissance Artists under the patronage of Lorenzo de Medici: including Botticelli and Raphael. Continue to the Uffizi art gallery, housing a world-renowned collection of Renaissance art. After a short coffee break on the roof terrace, take a specially-arranged visit through the Vasari corridor (subject to confirmation), this private corridor connects the Uffizi to the Palazzo Pitti, going over the Arno river and along the Ponte Vecchio; it was built to celebrate Francesco de’ Medici’s marriage and is lined with family portraits. After lunch, tour the Galleria del Costume which showcases some of the original restored silk brocade and velvet costumes of the Medici. Some free time to enjoy the late afternoon sun wandering the formal Boboli gardens. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour

Today is dedicated to one of the great masters of the Renaissance: artist, architect, sculptor, and poet: Michelangelo Buonarroti. After an introductory talk on this genius, visit the Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo housing his Medici tomb sculptures. No visit to Florence would be complete without a moment to stand in awe taking in Michelangelo’s mighty sculpture of David. Put Michelangelo’s work in context on a guided tour of the National Sculpture Museum at the Bargello: showcasing works by the likes of Donatello that would have inspired the young Michelangelo. Gather this evening for dinner at a lively pizzeria.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour

Spend the day discovering a couple of the Medici Tuscan villa retreats in the hills outside Florence. Pause this morning at Villa di Poggio a Caiano, perhaps the most beautiful of the Medici country retreats. The villa was built during the reign of Lorenzo the Magnificent and contains fine frescoes by Andrea del Sarto and Pontormo. Enjoy lunch at Da Delfina, overlooking the olive groves towards the Villa Medicea. Take a stroll in the garden with the charming chef, who is passionate about his local herbs and produce and the recipes he creates, dating back to Renaissance times.

This afternoon visit the Villa Medicea at Artimino. Built in 1596 for the Grand Duke Ferdinand I and designed by architect Buontalenti as a hunting retreat. The villa sits in a dominant position overlooking the Tuscan landscape. Many figures of the time, including Galileo and Da Vinci are said to have visited the Medici family here. Return to the city center late this afternoon and enjoy a lecture on polymath Leonardo da Vinci.

Included Meals: Lunch
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour

Galileo Galilei’s discoveries shook the foundations of science during the later years of Europe’s Renaissance and opened new doors to scientific understanding. Spend the morning at the Institute & Museum of the History of Science. View Galileo’s compass, telescope and microscope and learn how these instruments influenced his discoveries. This afternoon take a walk into the hills and visit Villa Il Gioiello (subject to confirmation) this afternoon, for exclusive access to the place where the persecuted scientist spent the final years of his life under house arrest. It was here also that he dictated his “Dialogue Concerning Two Chief World Systems,” the book that lays out the difference between an Earth-centered system and a Sun-centered system, that became fundamental for modern scientific pursuits. After dinner this evening, take a specially-arranged visit to the Arcetri Observatory to observe the night sky and understand the significance of Galileo’s scientific advances.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour

This morning’s talk discusses Savonarola and how he clashed with the church and the Medici family. Continue to the Duomo Complex to understand the architectural engineering genius of Brunelleschi. The cupola is iconic of the Florence skyline but the funding was highly controversial. Optional visit to climb to the top of the cupola – for those with the stamina to climb 475 steps! 

After lunch, visit the Santa Croce Basilica which was located in a key neighborhood for the social, religious and political life of the 15th century. Admire the Medici Chapel designed by Michelozzo with decoration by Della Robbia. Gather for a festive farewell dinner this evening, at a typical Florentine restaurant.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Cavour

Depart hotel for individual flights home.

Available Dates & Pricing

March 20-27, 2023

$ 5,725
Single supplement $990
  • $500 deposit to reserve your space

October 7-14, 2023

$ 5,725
Single supplement $990
  • $500 deposit to reserve your space
  • Comprehensive educational program by professional on-site guides
  • Accommodations and meals as outlined in the itinerary
  • Sightseeing and visits, including entrance fees, as specified in the itinerary
  • Ground transportation within the itinerary
  • Gratuities to porters, drivers, and guides
  • The assistance of an ATA tour manager for comprehensive logistical and customer service management on the trip
  • The assistance of an ATA professional travel team to assist with pre-trip questions, travel
    arrangements, including flights, extra hotel nights, and other services
  • Comprehensive pre-departure information about the destination and what to expect on the trip, including a suggested reading list
  • Fully vetted program that meets COVID-19 health and safety protocols
Trip accommodations, the Grand Hotel Cavour Florence

Accommodations

The Grand Hotel Cavour

The Grand Hotel Cavour is a 4-star property located in the historic center of Florence, a short walk to the Duomo or Uffizi and many other key sites in the city. Guestrooms are contemporary in style, furnished with parquet floors and offer all conveniences including wifi. There is a delightful rooftop terrace and the hotel is conveniently located close to shops and many great restaurants and cafes.

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