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Florence Itinerary


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San Gimignano

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Tour 2000 --   Tuscany Itinerary


Friday, 915 - Arezzo & Piero della Francesca
We board our coach early and head southeast along the Arno valley to Arezzo, an important hilltown since Etruscan times. Beginning at the Duomo, we get an introduction to our day's two major themes with Piero della Francisca's fresco of Mary Magdalen, and a particularly fine Romanesque tomb inscription. We wend our way down the hill, taking in Petrarch's home, the inscription-covered Palazzo del Popolo, and the complex of Medieval and Romanesque civic buildings lining the Piazza Grande. At the Church of San Francesco we'll have the opportunity to see the newly restored fresco cycle of Piero della Francesca - Legend of the Holy Cross - considered the masterpiece of this seminal early-Renaissance artist. After a lunch break and free strolling time, we meet our bus near the 1st century Roman amphitheater and head northwest into the upper Tiber valley to the village of Sansepolcro, della Francesca's birthplace, for a stop at the Museo civico, containing a superb collection of its favorite son's work. In late afternoon, our coach takes us through the west Tuscan countryside to Siena, our next port of call.

Saturday, 9/16 - Siena & Sienese Artistic Traditions
After Michael's morning orientation, we begin the day with a walk through Siena's medieval streets to the Piazza del Duomo and its complex of Italian Gothic buildings. This will be our morning base as we explore the Duomo, the Ospedale (medieval hospital), Baptistery , and museums (archeological and ecclesiastical). The Piccolomini Library, a late-Renaissance frescoed reading room lined with display cases of magnificent 15th-century manuscripts and Psalters, is a key venue for our lettering focus. We continue our walk to Siena's civic center, the Campo. This fan-shaped grand piazza, site of the famous annual Palio horse race and festival, and considered to be one of Europe's most harmonious urban settings, is the backdrop for our lunch break. In the afternoon you have the option of seeing the Pinacoteca, the historical art museum with its wealth of Sienese paintings, or exploring this fascinating hilltown on your own. Dinner presents many options for enjoying the renown Sienese-Tuscan cuisine.

Sunday, 9/17 - San Gimingano & Volterra
Departing Siena, a pleasant coach ride through the rolling Tuscan countryside brings us to the picturesque hilltown of San Gimignano, known as "the Manhattan of Tuscany" for its distinctive skyline of medieval towers. We explore this amazingly preserved walled-town with its many architectural delights on foot and at our own pace, meeting up again mid-morning at the Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, the richly-decorated Romanesque cathedral in the center. Here we see an all-over frescoed treatment, which Michael will help us put in perspective with the region and period. After a lunch break, we reboard our coach and continue heading west through the increasingly expansive hill country, reaching Volterra mid-afternoon. The Etruscan spirit still permeates Volterra, a fortified town perched on a rocky promontory overlooking the craggy landscape. Here we meet a local guide who will show us the medieval city and lead us through the fine Museo Etrusco Guarnacci which includes some of the best examples of inscribed Etruscan lettering. We rejoin our coach outside the walls, and continue our journey northwest to Pisa, arriving in time to see its famous tower in the glow of dusk.

Monday, 9/18 - Pisa
Following an orientation by Michael on Pisa's distinctive Romanesque architecture, we walk from our hotel a short block to enter the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), Pisa's harmonious complex of Romanesque buildings consisting of the Duomo, the Camposanto (cemetery), the Baptistry, and the Campanile (leaning bell tower). These sites along with the fine Museo del Duomo will occupy our morning. Of particular interest will be the scores of inscribed medieval and Renaissance floor slabs in the Camposanto, and the exhibit of sinopie (the actual sketched foundations for frescoes) which helps us better understand this medium. The afternoon is free for personal exploration. In the evening, we plan an informal soiree with noted lettering historian, Professor Armando Petrucci. His book, Public Lettering, is an important work in tracing the styles and function of lettering in civic contexts. Those interested can participate in a dinner following.

Tuesday, 9/19 - Lucca & Return to Florence
Our coach departs early and heads north through the coastal mountains pocked with pink-marble quarries, to the plain of Lucca, and its namesake walled town. If one were to choose the Italian town that has best preserved its medieval appearance and tenor, this is it. The harmonious medieval center seems little changed from the 14th century, when Lucca reined as textile-producing capital of the region. We will stroll together through its warren of streets and alleys, taking in several major Romanesque churches, all with interesting architecture, decoration and inscriptions. We'll disperse for lunch and personal time, which might include a walk along its broad, tree-lined ramparts, or browsing its markets and small shops. Then we reboard our coach and head east, returning to Florence mid-afternoon. After arriving and settling back into our hotel, there is free time before our farewell dinner in the evening.

Wednesday, 9/20 - Departure Day
A final breakfast at the hotel and panoramic view and photos from the rooftop terrace will be a fitting closure to our too-short time in Florence and Tuscany. Unless special arrangements have been made, hotel checkout time is 10:00 AM. Your departure plans depend on your personal itinerary after this point.

Themes For Tuscany:
> Medieval (and other) inscriptions
> Ancient Roman & Etruscan Influences
> The manuscript book
> Romanesque architecture
> Gothic sculpture: Nicola and Giovanni Pisano
> Fresco painting
> Sienese painting
> Piero della Francesca

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