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The Hidden Treasures of Florence

Program Number: 18647RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/9/2015 - 10/19/2015; 4/5/2016 - 4/15/2016; 4/14/2016 - 4/24/2016; 4/24/2016 - 5/4/2016; 5/23/2016 - 6/2/2016; 8/24/2016 - 9/3/2016; 9/5/2016 - 9/15/2016; 9/14/2016 - 9/24/2016; 9/28/2016 - 10/8/2016; 10/15/2016 - 10/25/2016; 11/1/2016 - 11/11/2016;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: Italy
Price starting at: $2,998.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 19; 9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 2 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Salt; Low Fat; Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

This is a special opportunity to experience Florence at its absolute best — beyond the throngs of tourists in quiet neighborhoods where artisans and patricians live side by side amid colorful window boxes, cobblestone streets and churches with many hidden stories waiting to be told. View works by Michelangelo, Donatello and the great Renaissance masters.


• Top art historians introduce you to great but lesser-known works of art in galleries and private collections not open to the public.
• Exclusive private access to the Vasari Corridor which boasts a collection of portraits and paintings.
• On-site lectures cover Roman, Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic art and architecture, while art collectors discuss their stunning private holdings with you over cocktails and aperitifs.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile over the course of a day, uneven terrain; standing up to one hour at a time during on-site lectures.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Florence, 9 nights, departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Florence
9 nights

Accompany world-class art historians on private visits to view and learn about universally revered masterpieces and lesser-known but equally amazing gems by Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo and other great masters in churches, galleries and museums. Enjoy an exclusive discovery of Florence’s famed Vasari Corridor and the portraits and paintings housed within. Meet collectors and discuss their stunning private holdings over aperitifs and hear fascinating talks on-site at some of the city’s best examples of Roman, Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic architecture. Noble families dating back to the Middle Ages open their palaces and gardens — normally off-limits to the public — for you to explore, and you hear an exclusive organ concert of ancient Florentine and Tuscan music, performed by a native musician on an Italian organ dating to the end of the 18th century.


“Dolce far niente,” the “sweetness of doing nothing.” This ode to leisure is a distinctly Italian phrase, and yet the expression does not do justice to the hard-work ethos of the nation’s inhabitants. The monuments, art and civilization bequeathed to the people of modern Italy are a testament to the industry of their forebearers, and the legacy lives on in today’s Italians, who work hard to better enjoy the sweetness of repose.

Intimate three-star hotel in the heart of the city’s historic area.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Cellai
  Florence, Italy 9 nights
 Hotel Cellai
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Hotel Cellai is located in the heart of the historic center of Florence in an extremely characteristic and quiet area. It is surrounded by the extraordinary beauty of churches, buildings and monuments which are unique to this city. On entering this exclusive hotel in Florence, you will immediately sense its special atmosphere as being one of warmth and intimacy, relaxation and charm. An atmosphere that makes you feel like being at home, with each detail passionately chosen and each room deserving a visit, not to mention our personal attention offered to each guest. Its style recalls that of the ancient inns of times past where young, European aristocrats stayed while discovering the beauty and artistic mysteries on offer in Italy.
  Contact info: Via 27 Aprile 14, 52r
Florence,  50129 Italy
phone: + 011 39 055 489291
  Room amenities: The special, defined style of the 55 rooms is combined with high quality comforts, ensuring your stay is even more pleasurable: air conditioning, direct telephone, satellite color TV, minibar, private bathroom. Type of rooms: double rooms and double use single rooms.
  Facility amenities: Flooring in stone or terracotta, stone arches, antique furniture and priceless, artistic furnishing accessories characterize the many lounges available to guests wishing to read or relax in the company of others. Some of the most evocative rooms include the splendid Fireplace lounge, the Garibaldi lounge and the Terrace, a sort of "open lounge area" overlooking the Florence skyline. The breakfast room is a "winter garden" with a large skylight where guests are served a delicious, candlelight breakfast each morning, with classical music playing in the background.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: DBL €165, DUS €155, B/B Advanced reservation required and depending upon availability. Please send an e-mail to or call (781) 899-0900 City tax if applied it has to be paid locally: roughly cost: € 5,00 per person per night Please also check the hotel website for special offers
  Additional nights after: DBL €165, DUS €155, B/B Advanced reservation required and depending upon availability. Please send an e-mail to or call (781) 899-0900 City tax if applied it has to be paid locally: roughly cost: € 5,00 per person per night Please also check the hotel website for special offers
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Start Time: Hotel check in time 3:00 pm or 4:00 pm Program begins at 6:00 pm in the hotel lobby. You will be staying at Hotel Cellai that night.
  End of Program:
End Time: 6:00 am in the lobby of the hotel. For later departures check out is at 11:00 or 12:00pm You will be staying at Hotel Cellai the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Passports are needed; no visa required for US citizens in Italy
  Parking availability:
no parking at the hotel
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: No train or Bus are available to site.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Florence
  Nearest highway: Autostrada A1
  Nearest airport:  Florence airport (Peretola)
  Transportation to site: There will be a shuttle bus available to participants (with included air from Road Scholar) from the airport to the Hotel. Transfer service from the airport to your Hotel is provided on the day of the group arrival only
  From End of Program
  Location: Florence
  Transportation from site: There will be a shuttle bus available to participants (with included air from Road Scholar) from the Hotel to the airport. Transfer service from the Hotel to the hotel is provided on the day of the group departure only
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Elevation Note: There is no elevation above 3000 Feet

Equipment Requirements: No equipment is required
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: In Transit to Program
(Friday, October 9)
 Afternoon: Depart USA on overnight flight to Italy.

Day 2: Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
(Saturday, October 10)
 Lunch: Light lunch at the hotel
 Afternoon: Orientation meeting / Presentation of the program. Welcome drink.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the local restaurant
Accommodations: Hotel Cellai
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Duomo, Orsamichele, Piazza Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio Secret Passages
(Sunday, October 11)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Hotel
 Morning: Visit to Palazzo Vecchio and to the Secret Passages. On the way stop at Duomo and at the Church of Orsanmichele. Still used as the city hall of Florence, the famous Palazzo Vecchio built in 1299, became Duke Cosimo de’ Medici’s palace and was highly renovated by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th Hundreds. Following a specially set itinerary and thanks to a private admittance visitors are allowed to peep into rooms where the Granduke and his family lived, kept treasures, met spies and showed their power. Francesco I’s ‘Studiolo’, or study room, Eleonora and Bianca Cappello’s room overlooking the huge hall of the palace, Giorgio Vasari’s amazing construction of its wooden ceiling are only a few of the surprises one can experience inside the political heart of Florence.
 Lunch: Lunch at the local restaurant
 Afternoon: Free Time
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
Accommodations: Hotel Cellai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Palazzo Corsini, Antica Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella, Santa Maria Novella
(Monday, October 12)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Walk to Palazzo Corsini with stops at Santa Trinita' and Borgo Ognissanti to admire some of Ghirlandaio’s masterpieces. Transfer to Palazzo Corsini. Princess Corsini will open her private garden and palace and meet her guests as long acquainted friends. Visit to Palazzo Corsini al Prato. Located near the Prato gate on the western side of the historic area, the Palazzo was designed in 1590 by Bernardo Buontalenti, a student of Michelangelo and Vasari. Acquired by the Corsini family in 1620, it was completed and enhanced to include a classically-designed Italian garden that has been maintained largely unchanged to the present day. The Corsini are a noble Florentine family with deep historical roots in the city and a family tree that includes not only a pope but a saint as well. As lovely as the Palazzo is, the garden is the real jewel of the visit. Certainly a hidden treasure, the garden is divided by a central avenue lined with statues whose bases are gradually shortened to create the illusion of greater depth and distance. On either side of this broad walkway, boxwood hedges border geometrically shaped flower beds accented by lemon trees in terracotta basins. Princess Corsini leads you on a walk through her garden and points out the unique features of an Italian garden of this era. Since she personally oversees the maintenance of the garden, she is uniquely suited to share horticultural and historical details that enrich your appreciation of its features. You finish the tour with a visit to the Palazzo and a delightful assortment of refreshments.
 Lunch: Light lunchat Palazzo Corsini
 Afternoon: Walk to Santa Maria Novella with stop at the “Antica Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella”. This year Officina Profumo- Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella will celebrate 400 years of uninterrupted business. Guided visit to the Church of Santa Maria Novella to admire Giotto Crucifix, Ghirlandaio and Filippino Lippi frescoes and Brunelleschi's wooden Crucifix. The basilica is one of the most important churches in Gothic style in Tuscany. The exterior is the work of Fra Jacopo Talenti and Leon Battista Alberti. The interior contains extraordinary masterpieces, including the Trinity by Masaccio, frescoes by Ghirlandaio in the Tornabuoni Chapel and Giotto's Crucifix. Return to the hotel. Free time.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
Accommodations: Hotel Cellai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Lecture, Cappelle Medicee, San Lorenzo
(Tuesday, October 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Hotel
 Morning: Lecture : “ Michelangelo: his genius and his relationship with the town of Florence”. Walk to Cappella Medici, to admire the masterpieces of Michelangelo. Guided walking tour around the Central Food Market of San Lorenzo, an unique experience of the senses.
 Lunch: Lunch at Palazzo Gaddi
 Afternoon: Walk to ACCADEMIA to admire Michelangelo's David. FREE TIME
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
Accommodations: Hotel Cellai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Bargello Museum & Palazzo Gondi
(Wednesday, October 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Hotel
 Morning: Visit to Bargello Museum as soon after we walk to Palazzo Gondi. The Marchese Gondi will take you on a private tour of his elegant renaissance palace near the Piazza della Signoria. The palazzo was designed for the Gondi family in 1490 by Giuliano da Sangallo, a favorite architect of Lorenzo de Medici. The exterior of the Palazzo displays the classic layered design with each successive story a smoother, more subtle reflection of the one below. The open, central courtyard features a lovely fountain and columns with delicate and varied Corinthian capitals. A monumental staircase with detailed carvings on the steps leads to the upper stories with personal treasures of the Gondi family. While you admire the richly sculpted stone fireplace, the gracious Marchese will share his family history illustrated by the portraits on the walls. A terrace garden on the top floor provides privileged rooftop views of the Duomo and the central city. After the tour of the Palazzo, you will be treated to a wine tasting featuring regional Tuscan wines from the Marchese’s own vineyards. Each wine will be specially paired with a light appetizer. You won’t leave hungry." Visit to the Palazzo.
 Lunch: Light lunch at Palazzo Gondi
 Afternoon: Free Time
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
Accommodations: Hotel Cellai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Scuola del Restauro, Church of Santo Spirito. extra program
(Thursday, October 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Visit to Palazzo Spinelli. Visit the “Scuola del Restauro” and learn the techniques and the recent applications in the conservation and restoration of works of art. Visit the Church of Santo Spirito to admire Michelangelo's wooden Crucifix.
 Lunch: Lunch at the local restaurant
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
Accommodations: Hotel Cellai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Cenacolo di Santa Apollonia, Santissima Annunziata Church, Santa Croce, Scuola del Cuoio
(Friday, October 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Walk to Santa Croce District. On the way stop at Cenacolo di Santa Apollonia to admire "The Last Supper" by Andrea del Castagno and at the church of Santissima Annunziata to admire masterpieces of mannerism. On site lecture on "Florence and its historic handcraft tradition". Visit to the Chiesa of Santa Croce. This is the richest medieval church in Florence, which features frescoes by Giotto, a chapel by Brunelleschi and the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Machiavelli, Dante Alighieri.
 Lunch: Lunch at the local restaurant
 Afternoon: Visit to the "Scuola del Cuoio in the Monastery of Santa Croce". Scuola del Cuoio was created after World War II through the collaborative efforts of the Franciscan friars of the Monastery of Santa Croce and the Gori and Casini families, Florentine leather artisans since the 1930. Their mission was to give orphans of the war a means to learn a practical trade with which to earn a living. Santa Croce, with its strategic position along the banks of the Arno river, since the 13th century had been historically the district where the industries that required great quantities of water were concentrated. The tanners of via delle Conce and via dei Conciatori, just a few steps from the garden entrance of the Monastery and Scuola del Cuoio, were an important part of the Santa Croce neighborhood with the dyers of Corso dei Tintori and even the soap makers of via dei Saponai. The tanned hides were used for centuries for the leather manufacturing of the city and at the Monastery itself to cover the great manuscripts. Post-war Scuola del Cuoio brought those traditions back to the Monastery. FREE TIME Extra program concert at the church of San Francesco
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
Accommodations: Hotel Cellai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: Lecture, Oltrarno, Brancacci Chapel, Giardino Torrigiani, Private organ concert
(Saturday, October 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Hotel
 Morning: Lecture on Masaccio and Masolino Transfer to Oltrarno district. Transfer to Piazza del Carmine Walk to the Santa Maria del Carmine Church and visit of Brancacci Chapel known for its frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino. Visit to Brancacci Chapel. The Brancacci chapel of the Santa Maria del Carmine Church has been called the birthplace of Renaissance painting and the Sistine Chapel of the early Renaissance. It's fresco cycle on the life of St. Peter alternates scenes by Masolino in a late Gothic style with fresh, ground-breaking work by the young Masaccio. The tactile, expressive figures and realistic perspective in Masaccio's frescoes excited other painters, so that his work became a model and a challenge to the great artists who followed. Later additions to the fresco cycle by Filippino Lippi included portraits of Masaccio, Masolino and other contemporary artists. Restoration in the late 1980s revealed hidden details, so that today you can see these marvelous works with great color and clarity. Your expert guide will provide valuable insight into the creative process, history and significance of these amazing Renaissance masterworks. Late morning visit to Torrigiani Gardens. Hidden in the heart of Florence, the Torrigiani Gardens is the largest private garden inside any European city. Starting in the sixteenth century as a famed botanical garden, it was expanded in the 19th century into an English-style romantic park. The gracious Marchese Torrigiani will lead your walk through this enchanting landscape pointing out the characteristic features of the roman
 Lunch: Light lunch at Limonaia of the Torrigani garden
 Afternoon: Return to the hotel. Free time. Meet at hotel lobby to walk to the Church of San Francesco.Private organ Concert at the Church of S. Francesco
 Dinner: Dinner at the local restaurant
Accommodations: Hotel Cellai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Uffizi Gallery, Corridorio Vasariano, Santa Felicita'
(Sunday, October 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Hotel
 Morning: Visit to Uffizi Gallery. On site lecture : “The artists who inspired Michelangelo”
 Lunch: Light lunch at the cafe of the gallery on your own
 Afternoon: Visit to the "Corridoio Vasariano". The Vasari Corridor is a long, elevated passageway connecting the Palazzo Vecchio and Uffizi with the Pitti Palace on the other side of the Arno. It was built in 1565 by Giorgio Vasari, architect of the Uffizi, painter and author of the 'Lives of the Artists'. It was designed as a private, secure and convenient way for Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici to commute between his new home at the Palazzo Pitti and his offices (Italian: uffizi). As you leave the Uffizi Gallery following in the footsteps of the Grand Dukes, you cross the Ponte Vecchio by passing above the goldsmith shops. Windows in the walkway offer spectacular views of the river and the Santa Trinita bridge in the distance. On the other side of the Arno, you pass a viewing balcony looking down into the Church of Santa Felicita and finally exit in the Boboli Gardens. In addition to providing unique views of the city, the Vasari Corridor serves as a gallery displaying many of the Uffizi's fine works including selections from it's celebrated collection of more than 1600 self-portraits by great painters. These remarkable paintings by Bernini, Velazquez, Delacroix, Rembrandt, Chagall and many others, reveal how these important artists saw themselves. On the way back stop at Santa Felicita Church to admire Pontormo's frescoes
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
Accommodations: Hotel Cellai
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 11: Program Concludes
(Monday, October 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Morning departures from Florence airport based on flight schedule time.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

The Palazzi of Florence: their history and art

Author: Leonardo Ginori

Blue Guide Florence

Author: Alta MacAdam

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