Renaissance Florence - Art and history in the time of the Medici

Prices from £1,895


13 Nov 2019 - 18 Nov 2019
Duration: 5 nights
Ref: 19FLOR
With: Dr Paula Nuttall


Prices from £1,895
Single Supplement: £250
Deposit: £200

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Florence has been hailed as ‘the cradle of the Renaissance’ – birthplace of a re-wakening of a Weltanschauung with man at the centre of the cosmos. In this ‘città a misura d’uomo’ – a city made to human measure – Greek and Roman Antiquity were rediscovered during the 14th and 15th centuries, and the Florentine elite endeavoured to revive Classical statesmanship, society and art. As a result of this movement, Florence produced an extraordinary wealth of outstanding works of art: to this day, its lavishly endowed churches and treasure-crammed galleries bear witness to the Tuscan capital’s enduring creative prowess.

Much of this was created under the auspices of the Medici family who gained control over the city’s political, financial and cultural fortunes during the 15th and 16th centuries. Powerful statesmen, enlightened patrons and avid collectors, they and their contemporaries stimulated a unique rebirth of Classical culture, from Brunelleschi’s overwhelming cathedral dome to Botticelli’s intriguing painted poem of the Primavera and Donatello’s vigilant St George.


Dr Paula Nuttall is an authority on Italian and Netherlandish Renaissance art and is Director of the V&A’s Mediaeval & Renaissance Year Course. Her books From Flanders to Florence (Yale, 2004) and Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting (Cali. Univ. Press, 2014) are essential reading.

DAY 1:

We take our BA flight from London Heathrow to Pisa. Transfer to Florence by private coach. After arrival at our four-star hotel, an initial walk will take us to the Piazza della Signoria where the mediaeval severity of the Palazzo Vecchio (exterior only) and the contrasting Renaissance clarity of the Loggia dei Lanzi frame a unique outdoor sculpture gallery.

DAY 2:

In the morning we visit the complex of San Lorenzo, the parish church of the Medici family, with Brunelleschi’s harmoniously proportioned church. Next, visit Michelangelo’s magnificent Medici Chapels and the New Sacristy. The afternoon tour includes the Cathedral of S. Maria del Fiore, begun at the end of the 13th-century by Arnolfo di Cambio, while Brunelleschi completed it with his spectacular dome a century and a half later, and the adjacent and substantially older Romanesque Baptistery (exterior only). At the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, we study Ghiberti’s gilt bronze panels from the Baptistery Doors, Donatello’s haunting Penitent Magdalene and Michelangelo’s unfinished Pietà.

DAY 3:

The Bargello was built in the 13th-century as the stronghold of the leaders of Florence’s militia. In 1865, the year Florence briefly became capital of Italy, the building opened as a National Museum of sculpture, with works by Ghiberti, Donatello, Verrocchio and Michelangelo. Beyond the Bargello rises the great Franciscan church of S. Croce: murals by Giotto and his pupils cover the walls of its chapels, while in one of its cloisters stands Brunelleschi’s exquisite Pazzi Chapel. Donatello’s St Louis of Toulouse in the refectory was originally made for the Orsanmichele, Florence’s guildhall. This afternoon, we visit Palazzo Medici, with its enchanting frescoed chapel depicting the Procession of the Magi by Fra Angelico’s pupil, Benozzo Gozzoli. The church of SS. Trinita, features Ghirlandaio’s accomplished frescoes in the Sassetti Chapel and an altarpiece created in a Netherlandish manner.

DAY 4:

Morning visit to Vasari’s monumental complex of the Uffzi, studying its unrivalled collection of Florentine Renaissance pictures, including works by Gentile da Fabriano, Piero della Francesca, Botticelli, Mantegna, Leonardo and Raphael — to name just a few. A free afternoon for further exploration of the galleries or to take a break.

DAY 5:

The Dominican friary of San Marco is filled with works by Fra Angelico. The colour, elegance and humility of his work is visible both in his beautiful altarpieces and in the frescoes painted on the walls of the friars’ cells in the monastery. In the afternoon, we will explore the Dominican complex of S. Maria Novella, with Masaccio’s Trinity, a magisterial demonstration of mathematical perspective in art. At the end of the day, we will walk past Alberti’s Palazzo Rucellai (exterior only).

DAY 6:

Across the River Arno, to the Brancacci Chapel at S. Maria del Carmine with its hugely influential fresco cycle by Masaccio and Masolino. Transfer to Pisa for a BA flight to London Heathrow.


Twin/double share: £1895 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £250
Tour without flights cost: £1695
Deposit: £200 per person


  • Return flights with BA from London Heathrow to Pisa
  • Private coach transfers in Florence
  • Five nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Hotel Berchielli
  • Three dinners
  • Guided visits to all sites listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters

Hotel Berchielli****

The four-star Hotel Berchielli, located in the centre of Florence, near the Ponte Vecchio. It was recently refurbished in a classic Art Nouveau Florentine style, the hotel has a roof garden and bar. The bedrooms include satellite TV, mini bar, safe, complimentary internet access, air conditioning, slippers, hair dryer and air conditioning.