Art History Encounters Presents:
The Art of Florence and Tuscany
(Florence, Siena, Arezzo, and Sansepolcro)
Spend a week in Tuscany experiencing the art and architecture of Italy’s most beautiful region. Renaissance art historian, Elaine Ruffolo will be your guide for this unique trip full of great art, excellent food, and unforgettable landscapes. Tuscany is the region that gave us Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo, Amerigo Vespucci, Puccini, Gucci, and many more artists, inventors, designers, and geniuses. It is fair to say the world would be immeasurably poorer and less beautiful without their efforts.
Florence, the most important city in Tuscany, is the birthplace of the Renaissance, the city that for hundreds of years nurtured an unceasing succession of great artists and thinkers. No other place in Italy can rival Florence for the quantity and quality of art and architecture. Works by Giotto, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Masaccio, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo are all concentrated and easily accessible within the city’s churches, museums, and piazzas.
Draped on three hills, Siena is the most beautiful city in Tuscany, a flamboyant medieval ensemble of palaces and towers cast in warm brown, burnt-Siena colored brick. Its soaring skyline is its pride, dominated by the blazing black and white banner of a cathedral and the taut needle of the Torre di Mangia. The Palazzo Pubblico, the very center of Siena, is but four streets away from olive groves and orchards. This contrast is part of the city’s charm: densely built-up brick urbanity, and round the corner a fine stretch of long Tuscan farmland. Here art went hand in hand with fierce civic pride to make Siena a world of its own.
Follow in the footsteps of Piero della Francesca on a trail that visits the artist’s masterpieces in the Tuscan towns where he created them, including Arezzo to see the majestic Legend of the True Cross, the village of Monterchi to discovery the Madonna del Parto, and Sansepolcro to witness Piero’s sublime Resurrection
Arrival in Florence on Monday May 2;
departure on Monday May 9, 2022
Private visit to the Cathedral terraces and in-depth exploration of the recently renovated Cathedral Museum
Expert instruction from local art historians and guest lecturers
Uniquely designed itinerary concentrating on artisans of the Oltrarno.
Wine-tasting and dinner at panoramic Tuscany vineyard
Day trips to the Tuscan hill towns of Siena and Arezzo
Expert guided visit of Uffizi Gallery
Exclusive visit and dinner in private Florentine palazzo hosted by noble family
Accommodations for 7 nights in luxury 4-star Hotel Brunelleschi in the heart of Florence: www.brunelleschihotelflorence.com
Daily breakfast at hotel, 3 dinners, 3 lunches, 3 receptions, and 1 tasting
All group transportation
All entrances and donations
Local experts and private guides
Price: $5,215.00 (based on double occupancy)
$6,950.00 (based on single occupancy)
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Florence Arrival and Orientation
Arrival in Florence.
Transfer to Hotel Brunelleschi, your luxurious 4-star accommodation in the heart of Florence. Later this afternoon, explore the historic center of Florence on a walking tour that follows the streets that Michelangelo and his contemporaries knew intimately. Learn about the city’s ancient Roman origins and see what the city’s back alleys and smaller squares reveal about Florence’s growth in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
After this pleasant stroll through the past, return for a welcome reception and dinner in the hotel, which is built into the ruins of an ancient church complex and features one of the city’s oldest medieval towers.
Michelangelo and the Medici
As one of the most powerful families in Florence, the Medici were responsible for commissioning some of the greatest works of the Renaissance. Under astute Medici leadership, Florence enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity. The result was an outpouring of art and architecture. Begin with a visit to the church of San Lorenzo, where generations of Medici put some of the greatest artists to work, men like Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Michelangelo. The very richness of the church reflects the newly acquired fortune of the family and each generation left their mark here.
See the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, home of the Medici family for 100 years. It was here that Lorenzo the Magnificent began his Neoplatonic Society, here that Michelangelo spent the early days of his youth and here that Benozzo Gozzoli’s painted his famous procession of the Magi, celebrating both the birth of Christ and the greatness of the Medici.
Continue on to the Accademia Gallery to study the masterpieces by Michelangelo including the iconic David as well as his unfinished Prisoners destined for the tomb of Pope Julius II.
Travel by private coach to the hills outside of Florence for wine tasting and dinner at Frescobaldi’s Castello Nippozano in Rufina.
(breakfast, wine tasting, and dinner)
Art and Artisans
of the Oltrarno &
Private Visit to a
This fascinating tour will wind through the backstreets of the Oltrarno (south side of the Arno River), traditional home of many artisans still working in Florence. While strolling through the most characteristic quarter of the city, you will visit a variety of workshops to view artisans at work as well as the church of Santo Spirito designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and Santa Felicita which contains a masterpiece by Pontormo.
Free afternoon for individual pursuits.
This evening enjoy an exclusive private visit and dinner in the historical Palazzo Gondi. Count and Countess Gondi lovingly
maintain their private Renaissance home, of which they are justly proud and extremely well informed.
(breakfast, reception, dinner)
Masterpieces of the Uffizi Galleries
The Uffizi occupies the top floor of a U-shaped building on the front side of the Arno River, designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1559 to hold the administrative offices of Medici Grand Duke Cosimo I. Here the Medici installed their art collections. We know you will enjoy this special morning viewing some of the most magnificent works of art in the world and follow in the footsteps of princes as you pass through the Uffizi. Expect to admire masterpieces by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and more – culminating in three works by Caravaggio.
Farewell reception in an ancient Roman bath
Kellin Nelson first came to Florence in 2002 as an undergraduate with New York University where she fell in love with Italy, its culture, and its art. In 2007, thanks to a fellowship from Syracuse University, she returned and completed her Masters in Renaissance Art History. After working for several museums in the Los Angeles area, in 2012 she moved back to Florence with her husband, fellow Syracuse graduate Professor Sean Nelson.
The Cathedral Complex and Orsanmichele
Gather in the hotel conference room and join art historian Elaine Ruffolo for a slide illustrated presentation on the history of Florence. Next, take an unforgettable visit to the Cathedral complex of Florence: Baptistery, Cathedral, and museum. By special permission, climb the terraces of the Cathedral and view the Duomo from a privileged perspective otherwise not open to the public.
At the end of the morning visit the recently expanded and completely reorganized Cathedral Museum to admire Ghiberti’s original Gates of Paradise alongside his original North Door panels, Donatello’s Mary Magladene, and Michelangelo’s poignant Pietà. Finish the morning with a visit to the 11th century Baptistery, one of the oldest buildings in the city still used for religious functions.
Enjoy a group lunch in a local Florentine restaurant.
Meet fellow travelers in the lobby and walk to Orsanmichele, once a granary of Florence, now containing extraordinary works of Renaissance sculptures that represent the different guilds of the city.
This evening free on your own.
Siena: A Gothic Dream
This morning we will head by private coach into Tuscany and visit Siena, which is like a gothic dream. Walk through the medieval town, visit the unforgettable Cathedral of Siena, the Palazzo Pubblico, and a private visit to a contrada.
Enjoy a group lunch followed by free time to explore more of Siena.
On the way back into Florence, pause at the Piazzale Michelangelo for an unforgettable view of the city.
In the Footsteps of
Piero della Francesca (Arezzo/Monterchi/
To his contemporaries, Piero was admired as a mathematician as well as a painter, and today his paintings are celebrated for their serene humanism and use of geometric forms, particularly in perspective and foreshortening. Piero della Francesca is today acknowledged as one of the foundational artists of the Renaissance. Our adventure will take us through the rolling hills of Tuscany to visit Piero’s Legend of the True Crossin Arezzo, Piero’s Madonna del Parto in Monterchi, and Piero’s sublime Resurrection in Sansepolcro. An experience no true Renaissance art lover should miss.
Enjoy a festive group lunch in Sansepolcro followed by a visit to the Museo Civico to see Piero’s masterpiece.
Group departure from hotel to airport.
Elaine Ruffolo -
Renaissance Art Historian
Elaine Ruffolo has been teaching art history in Florence, Italy since 1989 and is a popular instructor for students and adults alike. Her special interests include the history of art and patronage Renaissance Florence. Elaine firmly supports that the best way to understand a work of art is by exploring the context in which it was made. What makes art history interesting and relevant today is study of the political situation, economic conditions, patronage, and the artist's personality which is reflected in the work of art.
The Art of Tuscany
(Florence, Siena, Arezzo and Sansepolcro)
$5,215 (based on double occupancy)
$6,950 (based on single occupancy)
Please sign up with your primary email address as that will be how we stay in touch regarding program details.
Registration is limited up to 20 participants.