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Tuscany Itinerary

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Tour 2000   --  Florence Itinerary


Sunday, 9/10 - Florence Orientation Day
We will enjoy an introductory gathering on the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Cavour at 1:30 pm. This will give us an opportunity to meet one another and to get an overview of Florence from above street level. From here Michael will lead us on an orientation walk starting at Florence's spiritual epicenter, the Duomo, and proceeding to its political nexus, the Piazza della Signoria. A visit to the Palazzo Davanzati, a late medieval tower house with authentic furnishings, will help engender an historical perspective. From the Ponte Vecchio, we continue across the Arno to the Piazzale Michelangelo for its postcard overview of Florence and proceed on foot to the beautiful Romanesque church of San Miniato, which inspired Renaissance architects and the facades of later Florentine churches. This marks the terminus of our afternoon tour. The walk back down to the hotel can take anywhere from a quick 30 minutes to 2-3 hours if drinks, dinner or strolling through the Oltrarno are entertained. In any event, most will want to explore the timeless mood of Florence on 'passeggiata' after sunset with the optional cup of gelato.

Monday, 9/11 - Santa Maria Novella & Alberti
After Michael's morning orientation, we begin the day with a short walk to Santa Maria Novella, the large Dominican church on the west side of the historical center. Its magnificent faade by Alberti is a study in early Renaissance aesthetics, and its Italian Gothic interior hosts work by Brunelleschi, Giotto and Ghirlandaio among others. Adjacent, we enter the large cloister complex of the Chiostro Verde and the renowned fresco cycle in the adjoining Spanish Chapel. Also on our morning itinerary is the small Rucellai Chapel designed by Alberti, in the church of San Pancrazio, containing his celebrated Renaissance-interpreted sepulchre, with a frieze of monumental lettering. The afternoon is free for personal exploration.

Tuesday, 9/12 - Santa Croce & the Duomo Complex
We begin our day at Santa Croce, the large Franciscan church a short walk from our hotel. This church, the preferred burial place of Florence's early power brokers, literati and favorite sons, offers many fine chapels, wall tombs and floor slabs. A lettering afficianado can be so caught up in the magnificent inlaid marble decorations and inscriptions that Giotto's famous frescos could almost go unnoticed! The adjacent serene cloisters, containing Brunelleschi's splendid Pazzi Chapel and a fine museum draw our attention next. After a coffee break, we return to the center and the Piazza del Duomo, with its suite of color-patterned marble buildings - cathedral, campanile, baptistery. Before entering the Duomo, we marvel at Brunelleschi's triumph - the largest dome of modern times, before St. Peters. The Duomo's cavernous and austere interior helps focus our attention on a few superb frescoes and inscriptions. Next we cross the piazza to the Baptistry. Aside from the general Romanesque integrity of design and decoration, we pay particular attention on the outside to its 3 sets of bronze doors; and on the inside, to Donatello's tomb of the antipope John XXIII. The afternoon is free.

Wednesday, 9/13 - Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Manuscripts, Masaccio
On this day we pay our respects to the Medici legacy, indelibly written on the Church of San Lorenzo. The main church and its Old Sacristy, commissioned from Brunelleschi, both stand as masterpieces of his Renaissance theorems and forms. The adjacent Laurentian Library and the New Sacristy, commissioned from Michelangelo, reflect the mature style of this late-renaissance master. We are hopeful of the opportunity to view selected manuscripts from the Laurentian Library in its grand reading room. (The New Sacristy must be visited independently.) Next, Michael leads us across the Arno to see another Renaissance statement by Brunelleschi, the Church of Santo Spirito. On to the nearby Church of Santa Maria del Carmine and its frescoed gem, the Brancacci Chapel, executed by Masolino and Masaccio - considered a seminal forerunner of Renaissance naturalism and perspective. We finish the day's trek at the Boboli Gardens with a well-deserved picnic lunch and time at leisure.

Thursday, 9/14 - Museums and more...
his, our last day in Florence, offers the opportunity to see three important museums: the Bargello, the Museum of the Duomo, and the Museum of San Marco. The Bargello is Florence's treasury of sculpture, metal work and decorative arts. The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo is the repository of masterworks commissioned for the Duomo, including such items as: competition models of the dome, monumental sculpture, manuscript choir books, and Ghiberti's original Baptistry "doors of Paradise". Last and largely overshadowed by Florence's top-touted venues, the Museo di San Marco provides an intimate view of an important Dominican monastery endowed with scores of frescoes by its once-resident conscript, Fra Angelico. After a lunch break, an afternoon excursion to the nearby hill town of Fiesole, with stunning views amid Roman & Etruscan ruins, will be on offer. Or you may choose to spend your last precious hours in Florence doing your own thing. We bid "arrivederci" to participants not continuing onto Tuscany at their farewell dinner, and encourage on-going tour fellows to get a good night's rest in preparation for the next day's early departure.

Themes For Florence:
> Renaissance inscriptions
> The manuscript book
> The humanist tomb
> Fresco painting and the control of pictorial space
> Sculpture: Ghiberti and Donatello
> Architecture: Brunelleschi and Alberti

on to the Tuscany itinerary >>


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