Featured holiday In the footsteps of the Medicis holiday Italy

4 nights/5 days
This is a holiday based on the history of the Medici family in and around Florence. From your 5-star hotel on the banks of the River Arno just outside Florence, you explore places associated with the Medicis in the city itself and the villas in the countryside nearby. A hire-car is included for visiting the region.
Included in your Expressions holiday
  • Accommodation in a double or twin room on bed and breakfast
  • Scheduled flights with British Airways London to Pisa or Florence, economy
  • Hire of a group B car for the duration of the holiday
  • Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Luxury holiday in the footsteps of the Medicis

This is a 4-night cultural break exploring the history of the Medicis in and around the magnificent city of Florence. It is impossible to understand Florence, even as we see the city today, without knowing something of the history of the Medici family, a wealthy banking family who enabled Florence to flourish from the 15th Century under the leadership of Cosimo the Elder and then Lorenzo the Magnificent, both benefactors to scholars and artists. With this holiday we guide you to places both in the city itself and suggest you visit some of the numerous Medici villas in the countryside around Florence. The architectural period stretches from the mid-15th Century to the end of the 16th Century.

Highlights

Stay in 5-star hotel near Florence • Visit Palazzo Medici Riccardi • Visit the Bargello • Visit the Palazzo Pitti • Visit the Medici villas at Poggio a Caiano and Artimino • Visit Fiesole • Visit the villa La Petraia • Visit Pratolino • Use hire-car to explore the region

Holiday price guide Sample prices are per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room for 4 nights.

From about

£1,450 Five-star hotel

Holiday Code FHIT06

The prices displayed here are a guide only. Each holiday price will be tailor-made at the time of booking to reflect all actual costs including up-to-date special offers.

Luxury holiday in the footsteps of the Medicis

Arrive by air either into Pisa or Florence. Collect your hire-car and drive to your hotel, the Villa la Massa, on the banks of the Arno just outside the city of Florence. This will be your base for the four nights of your stay. It’s easy enough to drive from here to the Medici villas around Florence but you can use the hotel’s shuttle service for trips into Florence itself.

Make the most of the shuttle service from the Villa la Massa to the centre of Florence. This is a full day to explore the Medici palaces and associated buildings in the centre of the city. The obvious starting point is the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, designed for Cosimo the Elder by Michelozzo and dating from 1444. This was the first Renaissance palace to be built in Florence. It was altered in 1517 by Michelangelo when two ‘kneeling’ windows were added. A glorious highlight of the palace today is the Chapel frescoed in 1459 by Benozzo Gozzoli, representing the Procession of the Magi. From here it is a short walk to the Church of San Lorenzo, begun by Brunelleschi in 1420 and the Medici parish church. Within the same complex are the Medici Chapels housing the Medici tombs, partly the work of Michelangelo. Whilst on the northern side of the Arno, visit the Bargello, once a police station and prison for the Medicis and now a national museum displaying sculptures by Michelangelo and Donatallo. Crossing the Arno, you find the Palazzo Pitti. Originally built for the Pitti family in the second half of the 15th Century, it was acquired in 1550 by Eleonora, the wife of the Grand Duke Cosimo I. Its interior illustrates the domestic life of the family during the 16th Century. Today the palace houses several museums and galleries including the Palatine Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, the Silver Museum, the Porcelain Museum and the Costume Gallery. (N.B. Museums and monuments in Florence rotate their closing day so that not all are closed on a Monday any more).

Today we suggest you visit two of the Medici villas to the west of Florence; the villa at Poggio a Caiano and the villa at Artimino. The Poggio a Caiano villa, one of the most interesting building projects of the early Renaissance, was begun in 1485 for Lorenzo the Magnificent. This construction presents many features of the new Renaissance architectural idea, particularly drawing from classical buildings and Roman villas. An open loggia on the ground floor reveals a new attitude towards nature. The villa’s central hall is decorated with frescoes carried out between 1519 and 1521, according to the wishes of Pope Leo X (the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent). The Villa Medicea at Artimino dates from a century later; it was completed between 1596 and 1600 and was commissioned by Ferdinand I as a hunting lodge. The simple exterior style is that of a castle-fortress with four jutting corners but it is also known at the ‘villa of the hundred chimneys’ due to the presence of numerous chimneys, visible on the roof. There is a hotel and restaurant at Artimino so it’s worth arranging the timings to be here for lunch. In the afternoon, perhaps return to the Villa la Massa to relax or venture back into Florence for further exploration.

The Villa Medici at Fiesole dates from the mid-15th Century and was commissioned by Cosimo the Elder. Michelozzo designed the villa, unusual for the time, as a home without a connection to a working farm. It was inherited by Lorenzo and it became a meeting place for men of letters. Further north you have the Villa at Pratolino, built for the Grand Duke Francesco from 1569-1581 and which fell into ruin and was demolished in 1820. The gardens are noteworthy being in the English style. Nearby is the villa at La Petraia, transformed from country home into a princely residence by the Grand Duke Ferdinand in 1587. Today it is a charming villa but commanding stunning views from its terraces over its gardens and the valley.

Depending on your flight time, there might be some free time for some last-minute sightseeing in Florence. Return your hire-car at the airport.

Holiday price guide Sample prices are per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room for 4 nights.

From about

£1,450 Five-star hotel

Holiday Code FHIT06

The prices displayed here are a guide only. Each holiday price will be tailor-made at the time of booking to reflect all actual costs including up-to-date special offers.

Our prices include ● Scheduled flights with British Airways London to Pisa or Florence return, economy
● Four nights’ bed and breakfast in a Deluxe double room at Villa la Massa, Candeli near Florence
● Hire of a group B car for the duration of the holiday
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Holiday price guide Sample prices are per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room for 4 nights.

From about

£1,450 Five-star hotel

Holiday Code FHIT06

The prices displayed here are a guide only. Each holiday price will be tailor-made at the time of booking to reflect all actual costs including up-to-date special offers.

Our prices include • Scheduled flights with British Airways London to Pisa or Florence return, economy
• Four nights’ bed and breakfast in a Deluxe double room at Villa la Massa, Candeli near Florence
• Hire of a group B car for the duration of the holiday
• Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

The journey and how you get there There are flights with British Airways from Heathrow to Pisa and from London City Airport to Florence daily. Upon arrival you collect your hire-car and then from Pisa it’s about 1 hour and 30 minutes’ drive and from Florence airport it’s a drive of about 30 minutes.

Luxury holiday in the footsteps of the Medicis

Expressions Holidays includes this hotel just outside Florence for this holiday.
Hotels included in this tour
Candeli
Villa La Massa

Villa la Massa is an enchanting 5-star Renaissance villa in the midst of glorious countryside, yet only fifteen minutes from Florence. Gourmet cuisine, stunning grounds and rustic, elegant accommodation afford guests a truly relaxing and restorative retreat.

Deluxe double room

Holiday price guide Sample prices are per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room for 4 nights.

From about

£1,450 Five-star hotel

Holiday Code FHIT06

The prices displayed here are a guide only. Each holiday price will be tailor-made at the time of booking to reflect all actual costs including up-to-date special offers.

Our prices include • Scheduled flights with British Airways London to Pisa or Florence return, economy
• Four nights’ bed and breakfast in a Deluxe double room at Villa la Massa, Candeli near Florence
• Hire of a group B car for the duration of the holiday
• Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

The journey and how you get there There are flights with British Airways from Heathrow to Pisa and from London City Airport to Florence daily. Upon arrival you collect your hire-car and then from Pisa it’s about 1 hour and 30 minutes’ drive and from Florence airport it’s a drive of about 30 minutes.

Luxury holiday in the footsteps of the Medicis

About Tuscany

An Expressions tailor-made holiday in Tuscany allows you to appreciate its classical landscape of rolling hills and vineyards dotted with olive and cypress trees, its misty green-grey mountains that are never too far distant, and hill-top towns of rich brown and gold stone houses. This combines with the beauty of the works of art contained in the towns and villages throughout Tuscany to create an inspirational union of the spirit and the senses. There is an intrinsic comfort in the supposed contrast between the delicacy of a Botticelli and the heartiness of Ribollita soup, yet both are typical of this fascinating region. As birthplace of the Renaissance, the impact of Tuscan and particularly Florentine traditions and culture on European heritage is fundamental to our way of life. In addition to the obvious attractions of the scenery of Chianti and the art cities of Florence and Siena, there are the less well-known regions south of Siena with its moon-like landscape of hills, the patchwork vineyards of Montalcino, the coastal marshlands of the Maremma, the spas of Montecatini and Saturnia, the islands of Elba and Giglio, and the Casentino with the source of the Arno and abundant mushroom crops. Wherever you travel on holiday in Tuscany, you will be inspired by the beauty of your surroundings and the way of life, which is quintessentially that of Italy too.

Highlights of Tuscany

Famous vineyards producing wines of Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Alabaster is produced in Volterra. Gold and silver are worked in Florence and the Ponte Vecchio is lined with jewellery shops. Marbled paper and stationery is a speciality of Florence. Ceramics and hand-painted majolica from raw terracotta from Impruneta to the glazed pottery of Siena are to be found throughout Tuscany. Lucca has traditionally produced silk and hand-woven fabrics. Leather goods including shoes, handbags and belts are to be found from market stalls to designer shops such as Gucci and Ferragamo. Interesting markets include the Mercato dell' Antiquariato which sells furniture from antiques to bric-a-brac in Arezzo on the first weekend of every month, in Pisa on the second weekend and in Lucca on the third weekend. The 'wild' Maremma is known for its long-horned white cattle and cowboys (butteri) and natural springs including Saturnia.

Cultural highlights of Tuscany

As birthplace of the Renaissance, Tuscany contains a wealth of treasures: Giotto`s Campanile and Brunelleschi`s Dome in Florence, the Tombs of Galileo and Michelangelo in Florence`s Santa Croce, Botticelli`s `Birth of Venus` and `Primavera` and the portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero della Francesca in the Uffizi, Michelangelo`s `David` in the Accademia, the architecture of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, `The Tuscan Maremma` painting by Giovanni Fattori in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the Piazza del Campo in Siena, `The Legend of the Cross` frescoes by Piero della Francesco in Arezzo, `The Creation` fresco by Bartolo di Fredi in the Collegiata in San Gimignano, Romanesque church of the Collegiata in San Quirico d`Orcia, 14th Century Fortezza of Montalcino, Renaissance masterpiece of the church of Madonna di San Biagio at Montepulciano, the abbey-church of Sant`Antimo, mediaeval Lucignano and the towers of San Gimignano, the Etruscan Museum in Cortona.  

Festivals in Tuscany

Many of Tuscany`s festivals resound with the flamboyance of the Renaissance and keep Tuscans and visitors alike in touch with the region`s rich history. Others are linked to Tuscany`s hearty traditions of eating and drinking. The most famous is Siena`s Palio which takes place on 2 July and 16 August each year. Others include the Sagra del Tordo (Festival of the Thrush) in Montalcino on the last Sunday in October when there is an archery contest and charcoal-grilled thrush are a delicacy. In Florence, Calcio in Costume (a football match played in mediaeval costume) takes place in June. Pisa has the Giocco del Ponte (Game of the Bridge), a mock battle in Renaissance dress also held in June. Viareggio celebrates Carnival on Shrove Tuesday with a huge display of flamboyant floats. In May and August Massa Marittima holds the Falcon Contest.  

Gastronomy in Tuscany

Simple country food is at the heart of Tuscan cooking. Regional dishes include Bruschetta (bread or ciabatta toasted and rubbed with garlic, olive oil and salt), Ribollita (bean, cabbage and bread soup), Pasta with hare or wild boar sauce, Porcini mushroom and truffle dishes, Bistecca all Fiorentina (thick cut of sirloin and fillet beef), Cantucci (almond and honey biscuits) served dipped in Vin Santo, Panforte (chocolate, nut and spice cake). Pecorino cheese made from sheep's milk. Local wines include the white Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the Bianco di Pitigliano. Famous reds include Chanti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Vin Santo made from semi-crushed grapes left for several months is an excellent dessert wine.

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