Get to know the Florentines who changed history
Michelangelo the Florentine
This tour will trace Michelangelo’s rise to fame while exploring his complicated relationship with Florence, his hometown. A visit to the Casa Buonarroti will introduce you to the beginnings of Michelangelo’s career as we admire his earliest works and we will follow his rise to fame as we explore the Bargello museum, which boasts a fantastic collection of Michelangelo’s works including his impressive Bacchus. We will also take an in-depth look at Michelangelo’s David and his famous Slaves at the Accademia gallery as we consider the artist’s legacy. For the true Michelangelo aficionado, this tour can be extended to include a visit to the New Sacristy in San Lorenzo, a burial chapel with architecture and sculpture designed by the artist for the powerful Medici family.
Follow the Medici family’s dramatic rise to power from merchant bankers to the rulers of Florence as we visit the monuments built by their wealth and ambition. Beginning at the convent of San Marco, we will learn why Cosimo de’ Medici decided to foot the bill for its revolutionary architecture and its magnificent Renaissance frescos by Fra Angelico. A visit to the nearby Palazzo Medici will reveal the family’s early aspirations of grandeur as we admire Benozzo Gozzoli’s 15th-century frescoes in their luxurious private chapel. Finally, we will experience the height of Medici magnificence in their chapels at San Lorenzo, including an in-depth look at Michelangelo’s New Sacristy. For those who want to explore Medici history further, this tour can also be extended to include a visit to the Palazzo Vecchio, which was lavishly redecorated in the 16th century to accommodate the Medici dukes after their takeover of Florence.
Galileo: Beyond the Renaissance
Perhaps best known for his bold assertion that the Earth rotates around the sun, and not vice-versa as was commonly thought in his day, Galileo Galilei remains a potent symbol of Renaissance logic and rebellion. Despite persecution by Church authorities for his controversial ideas, Galileo left an indelible mark on Florence thanks to the protection offered him by the Medici family. As we admire Galileo’s baroque tomb in the church of Santa Croce and explore the fabulous Galileo museum, we will discuss Galileo’s turbulent life and his critical contributions to modern science. For science enthusiasts, this tour can be extended to include a visit to Museo La Specola, where the nineteenth-century Tribune of Galileo stands as a reminder of the spirit of discovery that led to the museum’s fantastic collection of exotic plant and animal specimens and 18th-century anatomical waxes.
Secular Saints and Religious Heretics
Revolutionary ideas are bound to ruffle some feathers, and nothing rocked the foundations of society quite like the experimental culture of Renaissance Florence. While these years produced some of history’s best known minds, they are also marked by extreme and at times violent reactions against those who dared to challenge the status quo. Delve into Florence’s tumultuous past as we explore San Marco, a Renaissance convent built by Cosimo de’ Medici as a way to clean a guilty conscious that was home to the fiery preacher Girolamo Savonarola, who turned the Florentines against the “sinful” Medici before being declared a heretic himself for speaking out against the pope. After stopping to explore Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, where some of the most dramatic episodes in Florentine history took place, we will continue to the church of Santa Croce, where the tombs of famous Florentines stand as a testament to their bold actions. Here we will visit the final resting place of Galileo Galilei, whose heretical ideas prevented him from being buried inside the church until nearly a century after his death, and Niccolo’ Macchiavelli, whose name is still synonymous with shady politics.