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22589
Italy

Independent Florence: From Medieval to Modern Culture

Florence has served as an inspiration to residents from Leonardo da Vinci to Michelangelo. Experience its magic for yourself as you explore on your own and with experts.
Rating (5)
Program No. 22589RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
2,799
Flights start at
1,000
Italy

Independent Florence: From Medieval to Modern Culture

Florence has served as an inspiration to residents from Leonardo da Vinci to Michelangelo. Experience its magic for yourself as you explore on your own and with experts.
Length
8 days
Starts at
2,799
Flights start at
1,000
Length
8 days
Rating (5)
Starts at
2,799
Flights start at
1,000
Program No. 22589RJ

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To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 23 - Apr 30, 2023
Starting at
2,799
May 7 - May 14, 2023
Starting at
2,799
Sep 10 - Sep 17, 2023
Starting at
2,799
Sep 24 - Oct 1, 2023
Starting at
2,799
Oct 8 - Oct 15, 2023
Starting at
2,799
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 23 - Apr 30, 2023
Starting at
3,329
May 7 - May 14, 2023
Starting at
3,329
Sep 10 - Sep 17, 2023
Starting at
3,329
Sep 24 - Oct 1, 2023
Starting at
3,329
Oct 8 - Oct 15, 2023
Starting at
3,329

At a Glance

What kind of city could inspire the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Dante Alighieri or Michelangelo? There is only one answer: Florence. With its intrinsic passion for beauty, cuisine, architecture and design, Florence has been a hub of creativity and achievement since its origin as a Roman military encampment. Discover the magic of Florence as you explore its piazzas and museums, study the legacy of the Renaissance and marvel at its holy spaces and cathedrals. Throughout your adventure, enjoy the insight of experts as you explore the masterpieces of the Uffizi and Accademia, as well as ample time to experience the treasures of Florence on your own.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
The small historic city center is mostly closed to traffic. It is easy to walk to major sites along the stone paved streets and sidewalks over mostly flat terrain. Most sites visited in the itinerary are within a mile of the hotel.
Independent City Discoveries
Independent City Discoveries
Learn with a Group Leader and enjoy educational programming while also getting independent time to explore on your own. Most Independent City Discoveries include lectures, self-guided excursions and passes for public transit and museums.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Marvel in the works of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and others as you spend a morning at the renowned Uffizi.
  • Set out on foot to the Piazza del Duomo — the heart of historic Florence — and join an expert for an exploration of the Duomo Museum.
  • Explore Florence's Mercato Centrale to see and taste the flavors of Tuscany.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Stones of Florence
by Mary McCarthy
From Amazon: Renowned for her sharp literary style, essayist and fiction writer Mary McCarthy offers a unique history of Florence, from its inception to the dominant role it came to play in the world of art, architecture, and Italian culture, that captures the brilliant Florentine spirit and revisits the legendary figures—Dante, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and others—who exemplify it so iconically. Her most cherished sights and experiences color this timeless, graceful portrait of a city that's as famous as it is alluring.
Insight Guides Pocket Florence
by Insight Guides
From Amazon: Compact, concise and packed full of essential information about where to go and what to do, this is an ideal on-the-move guide for exploring Florence. From top tourist attractions like the Duomo, the Accademia and the Uffizi, to cultural gems, including the glorious Santa Croce church, the beautiful medieval bridge - Ponte Vecchio, and Cappella Brancacci, the site of Masaccio's sublime frescoes, plan your perfect trip with this practical, all-in-one travel guide.
A Room with a View
by Director: James Ivory
From Amazon: Helena Bonham Carter plays a young, independent-minded, upper-class woman who is trying to sort out her feelings, divided between a free spirit (Julian Sands) she meets on vacation and the bookworm (Daniel Day-Lewis) to whom she becomes engaged back home. Funny, sexy, and sophisticated, this art-house hit features a sublime supporting cast and remains a touchstone of intelligent romantic cinema.
Fodor's Florence 25 Best
by Fodor's Travel Guides
From Amazon: Compact and affordable, Fodor's Florence's 25 Best is a great travel companion for travelers who want a light, easy-to-pack guidebook to one of Europe's most exciting cities. Recommendations, pull-out map, practical tips and phrases, gorgeous photos and maps, and trip-planning tools.
The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance
by Paul Strathern
From Amazon: A dazzling history of the modest family that rose to become one of the most powerful in Europe, The Medici is a remarkably modern story of power, money, and ambition. Against the background of an age that saw the rebirth of ancient and classical learning, Paul Strathern explores the intensely dramatic rise and fall of the Medici family in Florence as well as the Italian Renaissance, which they did so much to sponsor and encourage. Interwoven into the narrative are the lives of many of the great Renaissance artists with whom the Medici had dealings, including Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello as well as scientists like Galileo and Pico della Mirandola. In his enthralling study, Strathern also follows the fortunes of those members of the Medici family who achieved success away from Florence, including the two Medici popes and Catherine de' Medici, who became queen of France and played a major role in that country through three turbulent reigns.
The Renaissance: A Short History
by Paul Johnson
From Amazon: The Renaissance holds an undying place in our imagination, its great heroes still our own, from Michelangelo and Leonardo to Dante and Chaucer. This period of profound evolution in European thought is credited with transforming the West from medieval to modern and producing the most astonishing outpouring of artistic creation the world has ever known. But what was it? In this masterly work, the incomparable Paul Johnson tells us. He explains the economic, technological, and social developments that provide a backdrop to the age’s achievements and focuses closely on the lives and works of its most important figures. A commanding short narrative of this vital period, The Renaissance is also a universally profound meditation on the wellsprings of innovation.
Florence: The Paintings & Frescoes, 1250-1743
by Ross King & Anja Grebe
From Amazon: A magnificent, never-before-published collection of every painting and fresco on display in the Uffizi, the Galleria Palatina of the Pitti Palace, the Accademia, and the Duomo, and more -- nearly 2,000 works of art -- all presented in a beautiful slipcased package.
Tea with Mussolini
by Director: Franco Zeffirelli
From Google: In 1930s fascist Italy, adolescent Luca (Charlie Lucas) just lost his mother. His father, a callous businessman, sends him to be taken care of by British expatriate Mary Wallace (Joan Plowright). Mary and her cultured friends -- including artist Arabella (Judi Dench), young widow Elsa (Cher), and archaeologist Georgie (Lily Tomlin) -- keep a watchful eye over the boy. But the women's cultivated lives take a dramatic turn when Allied forces declare war on Mussolini.
The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall
by Christopher Hibbert
From Amazon: At its height Renaissance Florence was a center of enormous wealth, power and influence. A republican city-state funded by trade and banking, its often bloody political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous of which were the Medici. This enthralling book charts the family's huge influence on the political, economic and cultural history of Florence. Beginning in the early 1430s with the rise of the dynasty under the near-legendary Cosimo de' Medici, it moves through their golden era as patrons of some of the most remarkable artists and architects of the Renaissance, to the era of the Medici Popes and Grand Dukes, Florence's slide into decay and bankruptcy, and the end, in 1737, of the Medici line.
Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art
by A. Richard Turner
A cultural and social history of the city focusing on the great art and famous monuments, featuring vivid color pictures and illustrations.
Brunelleschi's Dome, How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
by Ross King
From Amazon: On August 19, 1418, a competition concerning Florence's magnificent new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore--already under construction for more than a century--was announced: "Whoever desires to make any model or design for the vaulting of the main Dome....shall do so before the end of the month of September." The proposed dome was regarded far and wide as all but impossible to build: not only would it be enormous, but its original and sacrosanct design shunned the flying buttresses that supported cathedrals all over Europe. The dome would literally need to be erected over thin air.
Light in the Piazza
by Director: Guy Green
From Amazon: Meg Johnson (Olivia de Havilland) is eager to discover the glories of Italy with her beautiful daughter Clara (Yvette Mimieux), who was mentally impaired in a childhood accident.
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8 days
7 nights
8 meals
6 B 0 L 2 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Florence, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Florence
D
Grand Hotel Adriatico

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m. Transfer from Florence airport to hotel is 4 miles (20-minute ride). Walking less than 1 mile; urban terrain.

Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. We will get around the city on foot unless indicated differently. Road Scholars will be provided with a Firenzecard, the official museum pass of the city, included in the program cost. It provides admission to each of 80+ museums in Florence and is valid for the duration of your program. Except for breakfast, meals will be plated (each dish served to guests by a waitstaff) from a set menu unless specified otherwise. Water is included with all meals and other beverages including wine, tea, and coffee will be available for purchase unless specified otherwise. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Next, we will set out for a neighborhood walk to locate ATMs, pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Returning to the hotel, we’ll gather for welcome reception to mingle with our Group Leader and fellow Road Scholars.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. This is a Road Scholar Independent program. It is designed for participants who want high-level Road Scholar instruction, a few group activities, and who are capable and comfortable setting out on their own for a significant part of the day/night. There will be several hours each day of educational content. Most meals will be on your own (excluded from the program cost) to have what you like, and there will be substantial free time for personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

DAY
3
Medieval Origins, Duomo & Museum, Free Time
Florence
B
Grand Hotel Adriatico

Activity note: Walking up to 4 miles total throughout the day, extended periods of standing; mostly level urban stone sidewalks and streets, cobblestones; elevator available at Opera del Duomo Museum, unavoidable stairs. Extent of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will gather in the hotel meeting room for a presentation by a local expert on medieval Florence. We’ll learn of the Roman origins of the city and how, by the end of the 15th century, the Medici family had established a powerful dynasty and went on to rule Florence, transforming it into a cradle of the Renaissance. The Medici rebuilt large areas of the city in Renaissance style; became patrons of the humanities, arts, and science; and collected art treasures. After a short break, we will set out on a field trip and walk to the Duomo where a museum docent will lead our exploration of Florence’s most famous landmark. Known officially as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, it is called simply the Duomo. It is the third-largest church in the world. The magnificent dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and completed in 1434, was startlingly innovative at the time and is considered one of the wonders of the Renaissance. We will also explore the Duomo Museum complex, recently reopened after a major renovation and modernization. It includes more than 750 works of art covering more than seven centuries of history including medieval and Renaissance statues and reliefs in marble, bronze, and silver by leading artists of the day.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration. Suggested activity with Firenzecard: Explore the Palazzo Vecchio is the heart of medieval Florence. Built in 1299, it still serves the public as a center for local Florentine and Tuscany governments. Those with energy and stamina could climb the 233 steps of the 311-foot tower to the top for spectacular views of the city.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Renaissance Art: Galleria dell'Accademia
Florence
B
Grand Hotel Adriatico

Activity note: Walking up to 4 miles total throughout the day, extended periods of standing; mostly level urban stone sidewalks and streets, cobblestones, unavoidable stairs in museums. Extent of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will be joined in the hotel meeting room by an art historian who will provide an overview of medieval and Renaissance art in preparation for our field trips to the Accademia and Uffizi Gallery. We will then walk to the Accademia for an expert-led view of one of the most famous statues in the world, Michelangelo’s “David.” In addition to admiring this extraordinary figure, will also see the unfinished statues known as the “Prisoners.” It has been suggested that Michelangelo left them in their incomplete state to symbolize the struggle of humankind to free spirit from matter. There are other small collections in the museum that you might like to browse on your own following our field trip, such as the collection of early string instruments or the painting gallery with works from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and early 17th century.

Lunch: On your own to sample the local cuisine.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests each of us most. Suggested activity with Firenzecard: The Museum of San Marco is renowned for the paintings of Fra’ Angelico, one of the great artists of the early Renaissance, who frescoed extensive parts of the convent. Take in the peaceful atmosphere with a stroll around the cloister. The nearby Ospedale degli Innocenti, Florence’s original foundling hospital, hosts a touching museum filled with mementos of the building’s past, Renaissance artworks, and explanations of the building’s function today as the UNICEF Office of Research. Also of interest are the outer façade with Brunellescian architecture and ceramic rondelles made by the Della Robbia workshop.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Free Time, The Medici
Florence
B
Grand Hotel Adriatico

Activity note: Walking up to 4 miles throughout the day, extended periods of standing; mostly level urban stone sidewalks and streets, cobblestones. Extent of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Free time for independent exploration. Suggested activity with Firenzecard: Palazzo Pitti, large museum complex housing several important collections of paintings, sculptures, porcelain, furniture, costumes, jewelry, and objects. Its Boboli Gardens are one of the most famous of all Italian gardens. The Renaissance-style Palazzo dates from the mid-15th century. In the mid-16th century, the palace was acquired by the Medici, after which it was the residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany for almost four centuries. After the unification of Italy it became the royal palace, until 1919 when King Vittorio Emanuele III donated the palace and its precious collections to the Italian people. The Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, a palatial home commissioned by Cosimo de' Medici in 1444, is centrally located on the via Cavour. Admire the Renaissance-style inner courtyard and cloister, and Benozzo Gozzoli's Chapel of the Magi with stunningly detailed frescoes of nature and brocade dress of the time. Some free time to browse the collection of late Baroque art.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy the local cuisine of your choice.

Afternoon: We regroup in the hotel meeting room for a late afternoon illustrated presentation on the Medici.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Galleria degli Uffizi & Renaissance Art
Florence
B
Grand Hotel Adriatico

Activity note: Walking up to 5 miles throughout the day, extended periods of standing; mostly level urban stone sidewalks and streets, cobblestones. Elevator available in Uffizi, unavoidable stairs.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will walk to the reserved entrance of the Uffizi Gallery for a self-directed field trip with the opportunity to see what interests each of us most and spend as much time as we wish. This is the most extensive collection of Renaissance art in the world, tracing the development from Gothic to medieval to Renaissance to Mannerist paintings as well as architecture and sculpture. You will find many recognizable masterpieces, including Leonardo da Vinci’s “Annunciation,” Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” and “Primavera” as well as some Titians, Michelangelo’s “Holy Family,” and a few Caravaggios as well as Artemisia Gentileschi. There is a coffee bar at the end of the second corridor, on top of the Loggia, with a wonderful view of the watch tower and Duomo for refreshments and rest.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time for independent exploration. Suggested activities with Firenzecard: Science aficionados in particular will enjoy a visit to the Museo Galileo to see centuries-old astrolabes, globes, and scientific instruments. A highlight of the collection is the telescope Galileo Galilei used to observe the heavens. Detailed storyboards describe the objects’ stories and how they work. Also nearby is the Basilica of Santa Croce, the city’s Franciscan church with a collection of funerary monuments to Italy’s great artists and writers along with renowned art works by Cimabue, Giotto, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello, Vasari, Ghiberti, Della Robbia, and more.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Food & Wine
Florence
B,D
Grand Hotel Adriatico

Activity note: Walking up to 5 miles total throughout the day, extended periods of standing; mostly level urban stone sidewalks and streets, cobblestones.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will walk to the Mercato Centrale in the historic center, where a passionate local “foodie” will lead us on an adventure to learn about Tuscan foods and seasonal produce. We will browse Florence’s most popular food stalls and vendors, and most importantly, see and taste the delicacies sold within this 19th-century iron and glass structure.

Lunch: On your own to sample the local cuisine.

Afternoon: Free time for independent exploration. Suggested activity with Firenzecard: Explore the 15th-century Basilica of San Lorenzo, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, that served as the Medici family church. The Adjacent Medici Chapels houses the private tombs of prominent members of the Medici family with exquisite architecture and sculptures completed by Michelangelo. We will cap off the afternoon with an expert-led wine tasting at an “enoteca” — wine bar — near Piazza del Duomo.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
8
Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
Florence
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m. See your program’s “Getting There” information regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel. For those with early departures, the hotel will prepare a bag breakfast to take. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.