Insider’s Florence

November 11 – 18, 2017

Florence boasts a wealth of Renaissance treasures, yet many of its riches elude all but the most experienced travelers. During this exclusive tour, enjoy special access to some of Florence’s most celebrated sites and gain insight from local experts. Plus, step outside the Hotel Brunelleschi, your elegant boutique hotel, and you’ll find yourself near the Duomo.

Highlights Include

  • The Uffizi Gallery: View the collections of the legendary Uffizi Gallery during a guided tour. Opened officially to the public in 1765, this renowned museum features paintings by Leonardo, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, and other masters. You’ll also attend a special session by a Uffizi expert about restoration issues.
  • Casa Buonarroti: Meet the director for an after-hours tour of this museum dedicated to Michelangelo’s life and see some of the master’s early pieces.
  • The Oltr’arno: Meet artisans in their workshops and learn about their traditional crafts, including papermaking, enameling, and silversmithing.
  • Iconic Sites: Accompanied by an expert in the Italian Renaissance, take a special tour of the Duomo and Baptistery before opening hours and climb up to the dome for a closer look of the frescoes.
  • Hidden Gems: Experience a typical Renaissance household at the Palazzo Davanzati and view a fine sculpture collection at the Bargello museum. Enjoy a special tour of the 17th-century Palazzo Gondi and a reception with the owners.
  • Countryside Villas and Gardens: Join a landscape architect for a special tour outside Florence, featuring the Villa Gamberaia and the gardens of the Villa Medici.
travel deeper:


Day 1 — Depart

Depart from the U.S. for Florence on individual flights.

Day 2 — Florence, Italy

Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel, situated on a quiet street near the Duomo, and take a tour of the historic neighborhood before the evening welcome festivities. (R,D)

Day 3 — Uffizi Gallery and the Oltr’arno

The 16th-century Uffizi Gallery holds some of Florence’s most renowned paintings, including famous portraits. With your Smithsonian Journeys Expert, stroll through the gallery’s stunning rooms and view Renaissance masterpieces, including Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Michelangelo’s Holy Family, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation. In the labyrinthine Oltr’arno neighborhood, visit artisan workshops and learn about ancient traditional crafts, including paper-making, enameling, and silversmithing. Tonight, enjoy a curated dinner with an in-depth Mediterranean food and wine lecture at a local Florentine restaurant. (B,D)

Day 4 — Brunelleschi’s Dome and the Baptistery

Brunelleschi’s distinctive dome helped transform Florence’s cathedral and the city itself. Join an Italian Renaissance expert for a guided tour of the Baptistery and Duomo before opening hours. Climb up to the dome for a closer look at its marvelous frescoes and the revolutionary technology behind this 15th-century architectural wonder. At the Baptistery, admire Lorenzo Ghiberti’s 15th-century Gates of Paradise, a monumental set of cast bronze doors. Lunch and the remainder of the afternoon are free to give you time to explore more of what Florence has to offer: visit the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David, venture across the Oltr’arno to visit Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, or climb up to Piazzalle Michelangelo for a panoramic view of the city. (B)

Day 5 — Villas and Gardens and Fortezza del Basso

Spend the morning discovering villas, gardens, and palaces with landscape architect Nancy Leszczynski. Visit Villa Gamberaia, a beautiful 17th-century villa in the hills above Florence, where Nancy will lead the group through the house and beautiful gardens. Continue to Fiesole for an exclusive visit to the gardens of Villa Medici, where Lorenzo the Magnificent once gathered together for his Neoplatonic Society. The villa is now privately owned and closed to the public. On an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour with staff restorer Diane Kunzelman, visit the Fortezza del Basso, one of Italy’s foremost art restoration laboratories, and watch conservators at work on a Uffizi masterpiece. (B,L)

Day 6 — Daily Life in Renaissance Florence

During a special walking tour, you’ll travel back in time to view some of the city’s earliest architectural works, visit a home once owned by Michelangelo, and tour the museum in the Palazzo Davanzati for a glimpse of a typical household in Renaissance Florence. Visit the Romanesque Church of the Holy Apostles, and view the fine collection of Renaissance paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts at the Museo della Fondazione Horne. Meet the director of the Casa Buonarroti for an after-hours tour of this museum dedicated to Michelangelo’s life and see some of the master’s early pieces. Then, enjoy a special visit and tour of the 17th-century Palazzo Gondi. Enjoy a reception with fellow participants and the gracious owners. (B,R)

Day 7 — Frescoes by Fra Angelico, del Sarto, and del Castagno

Venture off the beaten path to discover lesser-known frescoes by Florentine masters. At the Dominican convent of San Marco, examine the rich paintings of Fra Angelico. See Andrea del Sarto’s stunning monochromatic fresco of the life of St. John the Baptist at the charming 16th-century Chiostro dello Scalzo. At the former Benedictine convent of Sant’Apollonia, admire Andrea del Castagno’s masterpiece of the Last Supper. Following an afternoon at leisure, celebrate your Florentine sojourn at a farewell reception in the hotel’s museum followed by dinner at a local restaurant. (B,R,D)

Day 8 — Depart Florence

Depart Florence for the U.S. on individual flights. (B)

trip details

 Brunelleschi Hotel

this trip

related tours