Road Scholar : Home
Italy: Classic Tuscany and the Treasures of Florence

Program Number: 19715RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/5/2014 - 10/18/2014; 10/19/2014 - 11/1/2014; 3/15/2015 - 3/28/2015; 4/19/2015 - 5/2/2015; 5/17/2015 - 5/30/2015; 9/13/2015 - 9/26/2015; 9/27/2015 - 10/10/2015; 10/11/2015 - 10/24/2015; 10/18/2015 - 10/31/2015;
Duration: 13 nights
Location: Italy
Price starting at: $3,549.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 28; 12 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

For centuries, the verdant landscapes and medieval villages of Tuscany remained frozen in time. Scarcely changed in appearance, today the entire region is a living cultural treasure. In the hills of northern Tuscany and the plain of Florence, discover the unparalleled artistic genius that blossomed into masterpieces of marble, canvas and architecture whose brilliance transcends time and place.




Highlights

• Visit the famed quarries of Carrara to learn why this marble is the material of choice for great sculptors and architects.
• Explore the villa of Lorenzo de'Medici at Poggio a Caiano, and visit a winery in the Tuscan countryside to sample Tuscan wines.
• View the great masterpieces in Florence: works by Donatello, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Caravaggio, Cellini and Michelangelo’s iconic sculpture, “David.”



Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles a day on uneven terrain. Towns and city centers have wide traffic-free areas. Expect inclines on walks in Siena.




Date Specific Information

10-5-2014, 10-19-2014, 4-19-2015, 5-17-2015, 9-27-2015, 10-18-2015

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



3-15-2015

Consider this off peak time to avoid crowds at museums and city centers.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Pisa, coach to Lucca, 4 nights; coach to Siena, 5 nights; coach to Florence, 3 nights; departure



Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Pisa, coach to Lucca
4 nights

Walk the streets of Medieval Lucca, tracing it nearly 2000-year history. Learn about the renowned white and blue-gray Carrara marble that was the medium of choice for Renaissance sculptors. Visit a quarry to see how the marble is extracted and an artist’s workshop (work schedule permitting) to view raw stone crafted into a work of art. Embark on a field trip to Pisa to explore the history of its famous leaning tower and baptistery and art in nearby museums.



Coach to Siena
5 nights

Begin to train your eye to discern the difference between work of art created by the Sienese and Florentine art schools, pay homage to the great Renaissance patron Lorenzo de'Medici at his villa. With an expert in Siena, view the Campo, Palazzo Pubblico and Duomo — the most famous in Italy. Learn about the incomparable Palio horse race and see why this centuries-old raucous tradition draws more than 100,000 spectators. Take field trips to the medieval city of San Gimignano and Renaissance Pienza. Sample great Tuscan wines.



Coach to Florence
3 nights
Departure

Illustrated lectures on Medieval and Renaissance art prepare you for independent explorations of the world-famous Uffizi Gallery and Bargello National Museum of Sculpture. At the Accademia delle Belle Arti marvel at Michelangelo's “David.”




Italy

“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.



Accommodations
Lucca: Four-star hotel in historic building near the Roman Amphitheater. Siena: Four-star hotel in city center convenient to notable sites. Florence: Three-star hotel built in 19th century at edge of Market of San Lorenzo.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Umberto Cattani

Umberto Cattani is a licensed educational excursion leader in Tuscany. After completing his studies in finance, Umberto worked in Milan as a sales manager for a clothing manufacturer. He discovered his real passion for teaching — and completed the required courses in art history, archaeology and history to achieve his new goal. Umberto lives in Carrara with his wife and daughter.
 
Donatella Grilli

Donatella Grilli enjoys sharing her energy and enthusiasm for Siena and San Gimignano. Donatella has been a part of Road Scholar programs in association with Trinity College for more than 10 years and especially enjoys sharing stories of Tuscany’s rich history with thoughtful participants.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Ilaria
  Lucca, Italy 4 nights
   NH Excelsior
  Siena, Italy 5 nights
   Hotel Corona d'Italia
  Florence, Italy 3 nights
 Hotel Ilaria
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: A comfortable hotel on a quiet street in the heart of Lucca within the city walls
  Contact info: Via del Fosso, 26
Lucca,  55100 Italy
phone: +39 0583 47615
web: www.hotelilaria.villetoscane.org
  Room amenities: satellite TV, safe for valuables, free wifi.
  Facility amenities: Conference center, spacious terrace, bar, lounge and snack bar in the lobby. Internet point in the lobby, complimentary newspapers. Browse the lobby's collection of fine art and photography books. Free wifi connection. Bicycles on loan to explore Lucca along the scenic path on the wide wall that encloses the town.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation system www.hotelilaria.villetoscane.org. Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to use online hotel consolidation sites such as Hotels.com or Expedia.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 NH Excelsior
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Modern hotel with excellent central location overlooking the city's main park.
  Contact info: Piazza La Lizza 1
Siena, NA 53100 Italy
phone: +39 0577 38 211
web: www.nh-hotels.it
  Room amenities: 126 rooms with air-conditioning, telephone, television, room safe and mini-bar.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant and bar, fitness center, complimentary wi-fi in the rooms and common areas, internet point in the lobby.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Corona d'Italia
Type: Hotel
  Description: Situated at the edge of the San Lorenzo market, the hotel is centrally located and convenient to the Santa Maria Novella train station, the Duomo and Accademia.
  Contact info: Via Nazionale 14
Florence, NA 50123 Italy
phone: +39 055 261 501
web: www.coronaditalia.com
  Room amenities: All rooms have private bathroom, individual AC/Heat controls, safe box for valuables, mini-bar, direct dial telephone, satellite TV, wi-fi access (hourly rate applies), hair dryer
  Facility amenities: Spacious lobby, marble and terracotta floors, wi-fi accessibility (hourly rate applies), meeting room, bar in the lobby open afternoon and evenings.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation system www.coronaditalia.com. Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment. Another option is to reserve through online hotel consolidator services such as hotels.com or expedia.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in 1:00 pm. Meet in the lobby at 4 pm for Neighborhood Walk. You will be staying at Hotel Ilaria that night.
  End of Program:
Check out of hotel by 11:00 am. No activities other than departure transfers to Florence airport You will be staying at Hotel Corona d'Italia the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Regular public bus service to Lucca from Florence, Pisa and Pisa Airport. Train service from Lucca to Pisa and Florence. Check trenitalia.com for timetables
To Start of Program
  Location:  in flight
  Transportation to site: To reach the program site in Lucca on your own you have two public transportation options: bus or train. At the information desk in the airport arrivals terminal you can get the most updated bus and train timetables and purchase your ticket. Buses to Lucca depart every hour from the airport terminal. The ride takes 50 min.; fare is about EUR 4. The train terminal is located just outside the airport terminal as well. Tickets to Lucca are about EUR 4. You may have to change trains in Pisa Centrale. When you arrive in Lucca by train or bus it is advisable to take a taxi to the hotel (fare about EUR 12) especially if you have luggage in tow. Taxi fare direct from the Pisa airport to Lucca (about 20 miles) will be approx. EUR 85.
  From End of Program
  Location: in flight
  Transportation from site: To reach the Florence airport on your own, taxis from the hotel to the airport are about EUR 25 depending on time of travel, number of persons and luggage. There is a public bus that runs twice an hour from the main train station in Florence to the airport. Tickets are EUR 6. The hotel is less than 500 yards from the train station. .
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
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: Transatlantic flight.
(Sunday, March 15)
   
 In Transit: Flight to Pisa

Day 2: Arrivals / Welcome and Program Overview
(Monday, March 16)

Note: Minimal exertion, a walk around town and classroom time for a lecture.



   
 Arrive To: Transfer from airport to the hotel in Lucca.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Late afternoon, Program overview, neighborhood walk and Welcome reception.
 Dinner: Dinner at a trattoria in the heart of Lucca.
 Evening: Explore briefly the area around the hotel or stroll around the city.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Ilaria
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Lecture From Origins to the Present / Walks of Discovery
(Tuesday, March 17)

Note: Not a strenuous day. Extended periods of standing during the expert-led walk in the heart of the pedestrian only small city.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Explore Lucca’s city planning from its origins in 180 BCE to the present. See the oval shaped piazza which conforms to the old Roman amphitheater. Stroll through the elegant shopping district on your walk back to the hotel.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Medieval Lucca and the Walls is the theme of today's walk of discovery. Visit the Basilica of S. Martino and admire its marble facade decorated with Romanesque statues and motifs. In the Middle Ages the city was a destination of pilgrims traveling to view relics housed within the basilica. Lecture on the history of Tuscany and Lucca's place in it.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Ilaria
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: From Calcium Carbonate to Art: Carrara Marble / Music of Puccini
(Wednesday, March 18)

Note: Coach one hour to Carrara and the quarries. Not a strenuous day. The expert led walk in Carrara might take 30 minutes to see the city center.



   
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Visit the quarries above the town of Carrara. See the massive machinery used to extract the marble, then wonder how it was accomplished since antiquity prior to the invention of mechanized equipment.
 Lunch: Lunch at an entoeca/restaurant in the center of Carrara. Enjoy some local Tuscan dishes.
 Afternoon: Learn about marble as the medium for artists. Working schedule permitting, visit an artists' workshop. Return to Lucca mid-afternoon.
 Dinner: Opportunity to seek out a special place to eat.
 Evening: Attend a performance of music of Giacomo Puccini, native son of Lucca. The exact date and program will be determined close to departure date.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Ilaria
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Free Time in Lucca / Piazza dei Miracoli, Duomo, Baptistery, Leaning Tower of Pisa
(Thursday, March 19)

Note: Light exertion in Pisa for the visit to the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Duomo complex comprised of the famous Leaning Tower and Baptistery. In high season reservations are required to climb the tower. 10 min. walk on flat terrain due to the wide traffic free area surrounding the Duomo complex.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel.
 Morning: Free time to explore Lucca on your own, suggestions will be available. The defensive walls surrounding Lucca date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The circumference is just over 3 miles and the lanes are wide enough for walkers and recreational bike riders. The high walls provide a wonderful panorama of the city.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Train to Pisa and short walk to the Piazza dei Miracoli. Expert-led visit of the Duomo and Baptistery. See the exterior of the famous Leaning Tower, part of the same Duomo complex. The lacy white marble tiers of the buildings contrast with the wide green lawns, which is unusual for a city cathedral. Until the port of Pisa silted up, the city was a strong maritime republic (along with Genoa, Amalfi and Venice) and the wealth of the city is demonstrated by the civic and religious pride the inhabitants had by funding such a grandiose construction. Train back to Lucca late afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in Lucca.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Ilaria
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Transfer to Siena / Chianti Wine Production / Medieval Civic Pride
(Friday, March 20)

Note: Coach travel and minimal walking at the winery. The road from the hotel to the Campo is pedestrian only and has some inclines as you near the wide Campo which slopes down to the Town Hall.



   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to a winery along a scenic route through olive orchards and vineyards in the Chianti hills near Siena.
 Lunch: Enjoy a lunch in the Chianti region and sample the local red wine.
 Afternoon: Coach south to Siena through the Tuscan countryside. Check into the hotel located in the historical center of town. After settling into your room meet for a city orientation walk that ends up in the Piazza del Campo. The perimeter of the wide square is the site where the famed Palio horse race takes place in July and August.. Expert-led visit continues to the Palazzo Pubblico. The great hall of the medieval Palazzo, still serving today as the town hall, contains an important fresco cycle depicting an allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Of note is Simone Martini's fresco of Guidoriccio da Fogliano on horseback.
 Dinner: Sample some regional dishes (and enjoy the view) at a restaurant in the Campo.
   
Accommodations: NH Excelsior
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Medieval Rivals / The Palio: More Than a Horse Race
(Saturday, March 21)

Note: Leisurely walk around town to visit one or more contrade, or districts. Note that Siena was settled on 3 hills and the walking path may include steep inclines of the pedestrian only streets.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Illustrated Lecture: The Palio, More than a Horse Race. Learn about this centuries old tradition where each of the city's districts, called contrade, sponsor a horse to represent their neighborhood. The shame of losing is enough to encourage cheating. Even though there is one race in July and another in August, the competitive spirit between the contrade is manifest all year round.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: A local expert leads a walk through a contrada pointing out the various symbols (Goose, Turtle, Tower, etc.) identifying the boundaries between the contrade. Get an intimate look at the pride and sense of community during an exclusive visit to a contrada meeting hall, chapel and small museum.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: NH Excelsior
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Life in Italy Today / Medieval Religious Pride
(Sunday, March 22)

Note: Negotiating the inclines and descents of the hill town of Siena will require more effort than the walks in Lucca or Florence. The historical city center is restricted to car traffic so that you can walk freely, but every walk is up or down an incline.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: A classroom session explores the regional aspects of Italian society and the national institutions that shape the lives of residents today. After a break, an expert-led walk to and visit of Siena's elaborately decorated cathedral (il Duomo). The floors are paved with inlaid marble depicting figures in religious and allegorical scenes. The visit continues to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo to admire Duccio di Buoninsegna's Maesta'.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Expert-led visit continues to a part of the collection of the museum complex at Santa Maria della Scala. Late afternoon, a lecture on authentic Tuscan cooking.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: NH Excelsior
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: San Gimignano: The Manhattan of Tuscany
(Monday, March 23)

Note: Coach to San Gimignano and walk around the small hill town. Not a strenuous excursion but the town roads are inclined. During free time, those with stamina may choose to climb one of the open towers to gain a commanding view of the countryside below.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Excursion by coach to San Gimignano for an expert-led visit of the medieval city. An original Etruscan town, this town retains much of its medieval aspect. At one time 77 towers were standing in the city. They were used in family rivalries in order to attain the advantage of higher ground. In the Duomo there is a fresco cycle depicting scenes from Dante's Inferno as a way of visually entreating the people to repent from their evil ways.
 Lunch: At a local organic farm, the host explains the production of extra virgin olive oil, wine, saffron and the characteristics of Chianina cattle. Opportunity to sample Vernaccia di San Gimignano, one of the few Tuscan white wines produced in the area.
 Afternoon: Coach to Siena late afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
   
Accommodations: NH Excelsior
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10: Pienza and the Tuscan Hills
(Tuesday, March 24)

Note: One hour coach ride to Pienza and a coach ride through the Tuscan countryside on the return. Short walks in Pienza, a very small hill town.



   
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Coach excursion to the town of Pienza. Pope Pius II Piccolomini (1458-1464), a humanist scholar and poet, was born in the nearby village of Corsignano, and once he became pope he began a building project to transform his home town into an idealized Renaissance city. He built his palace near the main piazza and renamed the town after himself.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own. In the small town of Pienza there are wine bars, cafes and restaurants from which to choose.
 Afternoon: On the coach ride back to Siena, sit back and admire the rolling hills of vineyards dotted with isolated farmhouses
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant.
   
Accommodations: NH Excelsior
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11: Coach to Florence / Meddici Villa / Accademia Gallery
(Wednesday, March 25)

Note: Transfer to Florence by coach, minimal exertion. Walk to the Accademia along narrow sidewalks. The sculpture gallery is at ground level; the picture gallery on the upper level.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Florence with a stop in Poggio a Caiano for an expert-led visit of the Villa of Lorenzo de'Medici. The architect Sangallo incorporated elements of classical antiquity: an arched portico which served as a porch and a shaded area around the building; an entrance flanked by grand staircases leading to the main entrance. The main halls are decorated with frescoes by Pontormo and Andrea del Sarto. Coach continues to the hotel in Florence.
 Lunch: Before settling into the hotel, a light lunch in the market area of Florence
 Afternoon: Walk to the Accademia delle Belle Arti to marvel at Michelangelo's David. A local expert leads the visit of the sculpture collection in the main hall which includes the David as well as the unfinished pieces called the Prisoners which seem to be still imprisoned in the block of Carrara marble. There are other small collections in the museum that you might want to browse on your own, such as the collection of early string instruments or the painting gallery with works from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and early 17th century.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Corona d'Italia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Market Walk / Uffizi Gallery
(Thursday, March 26)

Note: Minimal exertion, the historical center if Florence is closed to traffic and the terrain is level.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: An art historian gives an overview of Renaissance Art, and with an illustrated presentation, describes highlighted works of art of the collection of the Uffizi Gallery. After a short break, a Market Walk in the area of Brunelleschi's church of S. Lorenzo. Along the streets vendors set up carts with leather goods, pottery, scarves, souvenirs, etc. In the late 1800's the Central Market was built. Stalls display and sell fresh and cured meats, cheeses, breads, and other foods. In addition there is a fresh 'fast food' court where you can get sandwiches, pizza, focaccia, or hot dishes. You might want to try one of the eateries for an excluded lunch to have an idea of how some Florentines eat if they do not have time to go home.
 Lunch: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Reserved entrance time to the Uffizi eliminates the wait to enter. Once inside, visit the rooms of art treasures at your own pace. In the Gallery works are arranged in an order that illustrates the progression from the International Gothic style to Mannerism and examples of Baroque art with pieces by Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentilleschi.There is a coffee/refreshment bar at the end of the corridor on the upper level where you can relax and purchase refreshments while enjoying a commanding view of the bell tower of Palazzo Vecchio and the Cupola of the Duomo.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Corona d'Italia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 13: Walk of Discovery / Bargello Museum
(Friday, March 27)

Note: Minimal exertion on the walk to the Bargello. The Bargello has a flight of stone stairs to reach the upper floor. A small elevator is in service for the truly needy.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: A guided walk to major squares in Florence: Santa Maria Novella, Repubblica, della Signoria. Expert-led visit of the Bargello National Museum of Sculpture follows. The collection includes sculptures by Donatello (St. George, David), the competition pieces between Brunelleschi and Ghiberti for the north doors of the Baptistery and sculptures by Michelangelo, Giambologna and Cellini. In addition to sculpture there are rooms with fine examples of decorated pottery and armaments: swords, lances, early pistols, and suits of armor. In the Chapel is a fresco by Giotto and his school; on the right side one can see what is considered to be an early portrait of Dante.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore Florence at your own pace.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Corona d'Italia
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14: Departures
(Saturday, March 28)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel, continental breakfast for early departures.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Siena Torre di Mangia
From the Palazzo Pubblico rises the imposing Torre del Mangia, which dates back to the 1300s. If your legs are up to the climbing the 400 steps, there are spectacular views from the top of the city and surrounding countryside. Sorry, no elevator.
  Market
Each Wednesday morning, the park near the Piazza Gramsci comes alive with vendors selling home goods, clothing, leather goods, and ceramics.
  Florence Botanical Gardens
extensive gardens and greenhouses where the Univiversity of Florence maintains 4 million botanical specimens in a wooded urban park, the "Giardino dei Semplici"
  Museums
Visit other museums in Florence such as the Stibbert Museum which houses a collection of weapons, armor and costumes from the 16th to the 20th century. The Marino Marini Museum exhibits works of the contemporary sculptor.
  Lucca Walk, bike the walls
Lucca is surrounded by 2.5 miles of wide 16th-century walls. You can walk part or all of the path or rent a bicycle and ride with all age groups of locals. The flat path is shaded and very enjoyable to stroll or bike. To rent bikes, head to the tourist office in Piazza Santa Maria and rent from one of the two bike shops, Cicli Bizzarri or Antonio Poli's. They do have helmets available but you won't see local cyclists wearing them. Head up the ramp from the piazza to get up on to the walls. Many hotels in town also provide bicycles for guests.
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


Brunelleschi's Dome, How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture


Author: Ross King


Description: The story of the design and construction of the dome in the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, a tale rife with politics, cut-throat competition and mighty inspiration.



Every Day in Tuscany, Seasons of an Italian Life


Author: Frances Mayes


Description: Twenty years later Mayes is still besotted by Italy -- her house, the tumbling geraniums, the people and the food -- all lovingly documented in her best memoir yet. With interludes in Portofino, Assisi and Rome and a focus on Renaissance master artist Luca Signorelli.



Fodor's Florence's 25 Best


Author: Fodor's


Description: This shirt-pocket guide includes an excellent map and essential information on the city's highlights, including sightseeing, restaurants and shopping.



Insight Guide Tuscany


Author: Insight Guides


Description: An illustrated guide in the popular series, noteworthy for its maps and illuminating essays on history, art, food and culture.



La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind


Author: Beppe Severgnini


Description: Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses the apparently never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.



La Bella Lingua


Author: Dianne Hales


Description: Inebriated with the sounds of Italian, lovesick for its phrases and enamored of its earthy idioms, Hales, "a sensible woman of sturdy Polish stock," dives into the Italian of the piazza, literature, movies and streets in this charming memoir.



Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art


Author: A. Richard Turner


Description: A cultural and social history of the city focusing on the great art and famous monuments, featuring vivid color pictures and illustrations.



Seven Seasons in Siena


Author: Robert Rodi


Description: Rodi chronicles with self-deprecating hilarity his increasingly desperate and finally successful efforts over seven years to belong in Siena.



The Art of the Renaissance


Author: Peter Murray


Description: A classic, illustrated survey of the world of the Renaissance and its art. With chapters on Florence and its artists, the Netherlands, early illustrated books and many individual artists.



The Finest Wines of Tuscany and Central Italy


Author: Hugh Johnson (Foreword), Nicholas Belfrage


Description: This astute guide to wine-making regions and villages in Tuscany includes a history of Tuscan grapes and culture, excellent color maps and profiles of select vintners and wines.



The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall


Author: Christopher Hibbert


Description: A well-written, entertaining history of the Medicis in Renaissance Florence. Great to read before going to Florence, where the influence of the Medicis and the artists they supported is still very much in evidence.



The Renaissance, A Short History


Author: Paul Johnson


Description: The history, background, literature, sculpture, paintings and architecture of the Renaissance in just over 200 lively, thought-provoking pages.



The Stones of Florence


Author: Mary McCarthy


Description: The classic history of the art, architecture and culture of Florence. Novelist McCarthy takes us on a quick and vivid tour of the history of the Medicis and the city of Florence, focusing on Renaissance art.



Tuscany Map


Author: Touring Club Italiano


Description: A detailed map at a scale of 1:200,000. Imported from Italy.





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