Florence: Living in a Renaissance City

A small group tour with like minded people, couples or solo travellers, that is based in Florence. An authentic experience of living in this Renaissance city The daily itineraries draw on local guides to share their knowledge on this unique European tour. Trips to Vinci, Sienna and San Gimignano are included.

From A$14,375AUD



  1. 1. Visit the historic centre, and view the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
  2. 2. See the treasures of Tuscany, including the Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Raphael
  3. 3. Learn about the powerful Medici family by tracing their influence upon Florence
  4. 4. Explore the ouskirts of Florence on day-trips, including the picturesque village of San Gimignano
Florence: Living in a Renaissance City itinerary

Departure Dates

Departure Date Price
24 March 2025

Ends 14 April 2025

A$14,375 Twin

A$17,825 Single

28 September 2025

Ends 19 October 2025

A$14,375 Twin

A$17,825 Single

07 May 2026

Ends 28 May 2026

A$14,995 Twin

A$18,445 Single

27 September 2026

Ends 17 October 2026

A$14,995 Twin

A$18,350 Single


Our small group Florence Tours allows you to live in this Renaissance City.

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is Tuscany's most populous city, and attracts millions more people each year as tourists who come to this Renaissance city. It has been ranked as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, owing in part to its artistic and architectural heritage. Florence was a centre of medieval trade in Europe based on wool, and is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance .

Odyssey's Florence tours are multiple departures for a small group tour, typically with a maximum of 12 mature and senior travellers, couples or single travelers based in the city for 21 nights. The small group tour studies the history of this Renaissance city often on foot with a guided walking tour on several days through the historic quarters inside the city walls, as well as the great museums and galleries such as the Uffizi, the Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell'Accademia ) or Bablo garden. There are also a day trip series into the Tuscan countryside to learn more about the regional history as the period of Renaissance art flourished, for both men and women beyond Florence. During the period of your stay, there is an opportunity to re-visit Michelangelo's David or see the Caravaggio's in the Uffizi, more than once.

Your tour guide will share the history of a city that was ruled by for a considerable period of time by the successive generations of the powerful Medici family. This family left a significant imprint, and several generations feature in the city's political history. The Medici where key benefactors to many great artists byond Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Funding many its numerous galleries such as the Uffizi and the museums that today draw art and history lovers, particularly those interested in the Renaissance period to explore Florence. Florence is also a key city for fashion in Italy, ranked among the fashion capitals of the world, it was where Gucci and Ferragamo started. After 3 weeks this Florence tour this small group tour of picturesque Florence will have you feeling like you have stepped back in time particularly in the evening when the Florentines reclaim the city once the day trip coaches and groups have departed on their Italy tour after a few hours in this Renaissance city.

Small group Florence tour

Our guided tour examines the heritage, culture, and history of this beautiful city. From our base in self-contained studio apartments in the city's centre, we explore a different aspect of the city each day. On the first day, our expert tour guide provides a walking tour of the city, situating you within the world of Dante Alighieri, the Medici family, and Leonardo Da Vinci. We visit medieval basilicas and churches, and view archaeological ruins. We view some of the most impressive artworks in the world, contained within the many galleries including the Accademia and Uffizi. During the tour we also take day trips to Florence's diverse surrounds, visiting vineyards and museums in order to gain a greater appreciation for this beautiful region of Tuscany. Our program leader and local guides are passionate about these places and are delighted to share their enthusiasm with you.

Highlights of our Renaissance Florence tours

Our fully escorted small group tour of Florence features guided discoveries of the best the city has to offer. Our extended stay here will allow us to really uncover the city's secrets. We:

  • view priceless works of art in the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell'Accademia (Accademia Gallery), home to the famous statue of Michelangelo's David.
  • learn about the history of science at the Museo Galilei, and gain insight into the life of Leonardo Da Vinci.
  • taste regional delicacies from the surrounds of Florence, with day trips to San Gimignano and Monterrigioni for a tour of a wine and olive oil producer, including a wine tasting; and trips to the nearby cities of Siena and Vinci.
  • experience panoramic views of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo, Rose Garden, and Abbey of San Miniato al Monte.

You can read more about Italy with our country profile. We also listed 10 books about Italy to read before your departure.

This extended stay program of Florence is paired with a further optional tour, Odyssey's Following Caravaggio, should you wish to extend your holiday.

For more details about this tour click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above. If you would like to learn more about this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.

Enjoy Odyssey's long stay tours to explore city programs

Since 2012 Odyssey has offered long stay tours based in some of the greatest cities of the world. It began with exploring French history by rail inspired by Ina Caro's book.

Since that first long stay city tour Odyssey had added the following great cities to the list:

There are more programs to follow that have a similar style. They are centred on cities where you have indicated that you would like to return to explore further. They are places of cultural and historic importance where in a different life or different time you would have enjoyed a period of living in these cities. So whilst you may not be able to live here today, you can spend 3 weeks living as a local exploring with a local guide all that each city has to offer. A chance to return to explore some of the greatest and truly fascinating cities of the world.


22 days

Day 1: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar

Upon arrival in Florence, we will make our way individually to the long stay apartments where we are based for the 3 weeks. In the evening, we will meet up to walk to a local restaurant for a briefing on this Florence tour and enjoy a welcome dinner.


Day 2: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar

This morning, we enjoy a guided walking tour of the city to learn more about its culture and history. We’ll view some of the city‘s main sights, and check out the local outdoor food markets. The afternoon is free to explore Florence at your leisure, and come to know the city that will be home for the next three weeks.

Day 3: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar

Today, we focus on history and settlement in Florence. We visit the historical centre, including the iconic Duomo, or dome of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The stunning dome of Brunelleschi should be appreciated from all angles. We have an entrance to the cathedral, and it is even possible to climb the Cupola. The cathedral complex features the Baptistery, one of the oldest buildings in Florence. Adjacent to this is Giotto’s Campanile, a sculptural tower in the Gothic style which we also visit.

Later, we visit the Luigi Cherubini Music Conservatory at the Accademia

Day 4: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar

The day is free today for you to enjoy the city at your own pace.

Day 5: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar

Today we learn all about the influential Medici family. We visit the Piazza della Signoria to view the statue of Cosimo I. The bourgeois Medici family ruled Florence for the most part of 1434 to 1737. This equestrian statue depicts Cosimo de Medici. An authoritarian ruler, he is perhaps best known for the creation of the Uffizi (or offices) which now house a large collection of art commissioned or owned by the Medici family. The statue of Cosimo I was created by the sculptor Giambologna.

Next, we visit the Palazzo Medici Riccardi – the Medici’s first grand palace. This impressive building, commissioned by Cosimo il Veccia, is said to convey the Renaissance spirit of rationality, order and classicism. We also visit the Medici Chapels – considered the official church of the Medici family. The Basilica of San Lorenzo is the burial place of all principal members of the Medici family.

Day 6: Florence - Fiesole - Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar

Today, we transfer to Fiesole for a half-day excursion using local public transport with our local guide.

We visit the Villa Medici, which was built for the Medici family between 1451 to 1457. The villa is set in beautiful gardens that are arranged in three verdant terraces. We then view Florentine and Tuscan medieval art in the Bandini Musuem, before checking out the archaeological area.

We return to Florence and the remainder of the day is at leisure. We meet in the evening for dinner at a local restaurant.


Day 7: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Today we meet our local guide and we visit the famous Uffizi Gallery. Few people know that this huge building was originally commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici to house administrative offices. Uffizi translates to “offices”. Georgio Vasari was called upon to design the u-shaped building. He included a secret corridor that leads to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. The Medici family were great patrons of the arts. The collection was enriched by every member of the dynasty until they died out in the 18th century. A Family Pact, signed by Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici (the last of the dynasty) ensured that all treasures would remain in Florence. Most of the collection was bequeathed to the Tuscan state upon her death, and the Uffizi gallery was made a public space.

Some of the masterpieces contained in the gallery are priceless. They include the Ognissanti Madonna by Giotto (1310), Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (1482-5), plus stunning pieces by Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian and Caravaggio.

We’ll also visit Accademia Gallery, this is home to Michelangelo’s David (and houses the largest number of Michelangelo’s sculptures in the world). Here, we can also visit the Luigi Cherubini Music Conservatory and Musical Instruments Collection. Three very significant musical instruments are conserved here: a 1716, Stradivari violin and two instruments that once belonged to the Medicean Quintet. You will also learn here that the piano was invented in Florence!

Following this enriching experience, the afternoon will be spent at leisure.

Day 8: Florence - Monteriggioni - San Gimignano - Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Today’s excursion, is we venture by coach to Monteriggioni and San Gimignano for a day tour.

We travel to Monteriggioni where we visit a local wine and olive oil producer for a vineyard tour and tasting.

We then continue on to San Gimignano and view the main sights of this charming Tuscan hill town. It is a small, walled village with impressive medieval architecture. It was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1990. We visit the Collegiate Church, a minor basilica located at the heart of the village. Its Romanesque architecture dates to the 12th and 13th centuries.

Next, we learn about Vernaccia wine at the Museo del Vino. The variety grown in and around San Gimignano is distinctive. Made from the Vernaccia grape, this white wine is described as having a crisp acidity, followed by a bitter finish. Today, you will have the opportunity to taste for yourself.

Later, we return to our apartments in Florence.

Day 9: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

The day today is free for you to enjoy at leisure. The Odyssey tour leader can assist you with options to spend the day.

Day 10: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

We meet our local guide in the morning for a full day exploring the city.

We visit the Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence’s principal Franciscan church. It was built in 1294 by Arnolfo di Cambrio, and is the burial place of many key figures in Florentine history. This includes Michelango, Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei. A memorial to Dante is also housed here, though because of his exile from Florence, the sarcophagus is empty. Sixteen chapels compose the Basilica di Santa Croce, and we explore some of these today. We then visit Piazzale Michelangelo, which is a monument on a hill that offers breathtaking, panoramic views of the city.

The Rose Garden offers equally impressive views. Over 350 varieties are planted here, which bloom during May and June. But any time of year is ideal to wander through this garden, which offers a quiet rest from the museums and galleries of Florence. We visit the Rose Garden today, in addition to the Abbey of San Miniato al Monte – a basilica atop one of the highest points of Florence.

We then make our way to visit the Bargello Museum, a former barracks and prison which now houses a remarkable collection of Renaissance sculpture and art.

Day 11: Florence - San Casciano - Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Today we enjoy travel by coach to San Casciano where we visit Casa Museu Machiavelli, his former home, for a tour of the estate and vinyeard.

We enjoy a lunch at the villa before returning to Florence, where we’ll then visit the Certosa del Galluzzo monastery, located a top a Monte Acuto, south of the city. It was one of the most powerful monasteries in Europe and exhibited, until Napoleon’s spoliation, 500 works of art. the Carthusian monastery established here at the end of the fourteenth century; the place of silence, meditation and spirituality.


Day 12: Florence - Siena - Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Today we take the local train and travel to the beautiful city of Sienna, to explore its distinctive brick, medieval buildings and fan-shaped central square. This square is called the Piazzo del Campo, and is the site of the Palio di Siena: a horse race that runs twice per year. We’ll view the main sights and visit the Duomo Santa Maria Assunta.

We return to Florence by train and later enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.


Day 13: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Today is free for you to continue exploring the city on your own or venture to one of the nearby towns using the local trasport system.

Day 14: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Today we enjoy a guided tour on Art in Florence. We start with a visit to Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens. This impressive palace is one of Florence’s largest architectural monuments. On the first floor of the Palazzo Pitti is the Palatine Gallery, with its 16th and 17th paintings, including works by Raphael. On the ground floor is the Treasure of the Grand Dukes, featuring a collection of Medici household treasures. Just past the Palazzo is the Boboli Gardens – a stunning open-air musuem. Centuries old oak-trees and fountains dot these grounds, along with impressive sculptures. Wander through the picturesque ampitheatre while you’re here.

We then make our way to Casa Buonarotti, a place of memory and of celebration of the genius of Michelangelo.

Day 15: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Our morning’s theme is Science and Technology, with our local guide we’ll visit Museo Galileo. It was founded in 1927 by the University of Florence, and located in the Palazzo Castellani, by the River Arno and close to the Uffizi Gallery.

The afternoon and evening are free for you to enjoy at leisure.

Day 16: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Our focus today will be Politics and History. We visit the Palazzo Vecchio – Florence’s town hall. We explore the Museum and Tower here, before moving on to the Museo degli Innocenti. Six centuries of history are contained within these walls. The Museum is housed within the Institute for the Innocent – a charitable public institution that originated in the 14th century. It was devoted to the hospitality, care and education of children. Once known as an orphanage for children who were often left there anonymously, it now provides services for children and pregnant mothers. UNICEF’s Research Centre is also located here. It’s a fascinating part of history.

The remainder of the day is free for you to explore on your own.

Day 17: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Today we learn about all things Leonardo Da Vinci. In the morning we pay a visit to the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum. We then travel by coach to Vinci, birthplace of the Renaissance polymath.

We gain entry to the Museum Leonardino, where we learn about Leonardo’s scientific studies and view his models. We also visit the Casa Natale di Leonardo – his birthplace. Further insights into the man can be obtained here. We return to Florence by coach.

Day 18: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

The day is at leisure for you to explore at your own pace.

Day 19: Florence - Prato - Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

We meet in the morning and walk to the train station where we board a local train to Prato where we meet our local guide for a tour.

We’ll visit the Museo del Tessuto – an impressive textile museum.

We then sample the local delicacies at the famous Biscottificio Mattei, before returning to Florence by rail.

Day 20: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Today we indulge in Florence’s world-famous fashion and design. We view the designer boutiques on Luisa Via Roma.

We then attend the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum. This was opened by the family of the shoe and fashion designer’s family in 1995. Born in Bonito near Naples in 1898, Ferragamo’s passion for shoes was evident from his childhood. He opened a small store in his parent’s home. Then, he spent time in Boston and California, where he really began to achieve success. But it was on his return to Florence in 1927 that Ferragamo came to design shoes for some of the wealthiest and most powerful women of the twentieth century. The Museum is housed in his former headquarters and workshop.

We’ll also visit Gucci Museum which opened in 2011 on the 90th anniversary of the fashion house, and charts the evolution from its start in Florence to the enormous international brand it is today.

Day 21: Florence

Accommodation: La Repubblica or similar.

Today is free for you to enjoy your last day in this historic and vibrant city.

We meet early evening and make our way to a local restaurant for our farewell dinner.


Day 22: Florence

Our tour will conclude today in the morning.

Tour Notes

  • Depending on the size of the group for the Florence tours, travellers may be split between different properties.
  • As we're using long-stay apartments, minor variations in style and sizes are to be expected.

Includes / Excludes

What’s included in our Tour

  • 21 nights accommodation.
  • Welcome food hamper plus 5 dinners and one lunch.
  • Transport and field trips as indicated.
  • Services of a Tour Leader.
  • Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
  • Service charges and gratuities.
  • Touring by comfortable and modern coach.
  • Detailed tour information booklet.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Breafasts and meals not indicated on the itinerary.
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.
  • Any international or domestic flights.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • Airport transfers.
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, moderate walking on uneven surfaces between 3 - 5 kilometers per day. Suitable for most fitness levels

Book now


24 March 2025


Ends 14 April 2025 • 22 days

Change departure date


Room Type

Single Traveller
Two Travellers
A$14,375 pp

By booking two travellers sharing a room you save $3450 per person.

Payment Type

You can reserve your spot by paying a A$1,000 pp deposit, for full details please see our Terms & Conditions .

Pay Deposit
Pay Full

Prices are per person and valid until 30th December 2024.

Need Help?

We're here to help you with any questions you have. Call us anytime 24/7.
Australia flag 1300 888 225

Make it a private tour

If you have a group of 6 friends or more you can book this tour as a private departure, with all the benefits of our small group tours.
Get in touch to find out more.

Easing your journey

Crossing international borders with restrictions

The list of requirements to travel internationally has changed and will continue to change for several years. Odyssey is here to assist you in managing your way through these requirements:

Pre-departure checklist for travelling across International borders.
Support over email or phone available 24/7 for any questions you have.

For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.

Book With Confidence

If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.

See Terms and conditions for details.

Peace of Mind Travel

The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.

See Peace of Mind Travel for details.

Reading List Download PDF

The Italians

John Hooper

Sublime and maddening, fascinating yet baffling, Italy is a country of endless paradox and seemingly unanswerable riddles.

John Hooper's marvellously entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Looking at the facts that lie behind - and often belie - the stereotypes, his revealing book sheds new light on many aspects of Italian life: football and Freemasonry, sex, symbolism and the reason why Italian has twelve words for a coat hanger, yet none for a hangover.

The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, its Regions and their Peoples

David Gilmour

Visiting a villa built by Lorenzo de Medici outside Pisa, David Gilmour fell into conversation about the unification of Italy with a distinguished former minister: '"You know, Davide," he said in a low conspiratorial voice, as if uttering a heresy, "Garibaldi did Italy a great disservice. If he had not invaded Sicily and Naples, we in the north would have the richest and most civilized state in Europe." After looking cautiously round the room he added in an even lower voice, "Of course to the south we would have a neighbour like Egypt."'

Was the elderly Italian right? Was the unification of Italy a mistake? The Pursuit of Italy traces the whole history of the Italian peninsula in a wonderfully readable style, full of well-chosen stories and observations from personal experience, and peopled by many of the great figures of the Italian past, from Cicero and Virgil to Dante and the Medici, from Cavour and Verdi to the controversial political figures of the twentieth century. The book gives a clear-eyed view of the Risorgimento, the pivotal event in modern Italian history, debunking the influential myths which have grown up around it.

Gilmour shows that the glory of Italy has always lain in its regions, with their distinctive art, civic cultures, identities and cuisine. The regions produced the medieval communes and the Renaissance, the Venetian Republic and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, two of the most civilized states of European history. Their inhabitants identified themselves not as Italians, but as Tuscans and Venetians, Sicilians and Lombards, Neapolitans and Genoese. This is where the strength and culture of Italy still comes from, rather than from misconceived and mishandled concepts of nationalism and unity.

This wise and enormously engaging book explains the course of Italian history in a manner and with a coherence which no one with an interest in the country could fail to enjoy.

Florence: The Biography of a City

Christopher Hibbert

This book is as captivating as the city itself. Hibbert's gift is weaving political, social and art history into an elegantly readable and marvellously lively whole. The author's book on Florence will also be at once a history and a guide book and will be enhanced by splendid photographs and illustrations and line drawings which will describe all teh buildings and treasures of the city.

Rome: The Biography of a City

Christopher Hibbert

This beautifully written, informative study is a portrait, a history and a superb guide book, capturing fully the seductive beauty and the many layered past of the Eternal City. It covers 3,000 years of history from the city's quasi-mythical origins, through the Etruscan kings, the opulent glory of classical Rome, the decadence and decay of the Middle Ages and the beauty and corruption of the Renaissance, to its time at the heart of Mussolini's fascist Italy. Exploring the city's streets and buildings, peopled with popes, gladiators, emperors, noblemen and peasants, this volume details the turbulent and dramatic history of Rome in all its depravity and grandeur.

The Popes: A History

John Julius Norwich

John Julius Norwich examines the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter (traditionally - but by no means historically - the first Pope) to the present. Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unquestionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity.

One was said to have been a woman, her sex being revealed only when she improvidently gave birth to a baby during a papal procession. Almost as shocking was Formosus whose murdered corpse was exhumed, clothed in pontifical vestments, propped up on a throne and subjected to trial.

From the glories of Byzantium to the decay of Rome, from the Albigensian Heresy to controversy within the Church today, The Popes is superbly written, witty and revealing.

The Borgias

Christopher Hibbert

The name Borgia is synonymous with the corruption, nepotism, and greed that were rife in Renaissance Italy.

The powerful, voracious Rodrigo Borgia, better known to history as Pope Alexander VI, was the central figure of the dynasty. Two of his seven papal offspring also rose to power and fame - Lucrezia Borgia, his daughter, whose husband was famously murdered by her brother, and that brother, Cesare, who served as the model for Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince. Notorious for seizing power, wealth, land, and titles through bribery, marriage, and murder, the dynasty's dramatic rise from its Spanish roots to its occupation of the highest position in Renaissance society forms a gripping tale.

Erudite, witty, and always insightful, Hibbert removes the layers of myth around the Borgia family and creates a portrait alive with his superb sense of character and place.

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

Mary Beard

Ancient Rome matters.

Its history of empire, conquest, cruelty and excess is something against which we still judge ourselves. Its myths and stories - from Romulus and Remus to the Rape of Lucretia - still strike a chord with us. And its debates about citizenship, security and the rights of the individual still influence our own debates on civil liberty today.

SPQR is a new look at Roman history from one of the world's foremost classicists. It explores not only how Rome grew from an insignificant village in central Italy to a power that controlled territory from Spain to Syria, but also how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements, and why they are still important to us. Covering 1,000 years of history, and casting fresh light on the basics of Roman culture from slavery to running water, as well as exploring democracy, migration, religious controversy, social mobility and exploitation in the larger context of the empire, this is a definitive history of ancient Rome.

SPQR is the Romans' own abbreviation for their state: Senatus Populusque Romanus, 'the Senate and People of Rome'.

The Roman Forum

David Watkin

There are few more historic and evocative places in the world. Caesar was cremated there. Charles V and Mussolini rode by it in triumph. There Napoleon celebrated his festival of liberty. In this radical reappraisal David Watkin teaches us to see the Forum with new eyes and helps us to rediscover its rich history. This is as stimulating to the armchair traveller as it is useful as a guide to the Forum itself.

'With verve, authority and no little humour, Watkin tells the detailed and complex story of this great but mutilated landmark ... it is an almost impossible task, superbly done' Peter Jones, BBC History Magazine

'In this sprightly volume ... the distinguished architectural historian David Watkin charts the shifting fortunes of the site ... he has an engagingly romantic feeling for the place... deploying a good deal of sharp wit, he reveals how the relatively recent obsession with recovering the Forum's classical past has led to much unhappy destruction and much less scarcely happy invention' Matthew Sturgis, Country Life

The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici

Christopher Hibbert

At its height Renaissance Florence was a centre 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.

The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici

Catherine Fletcher

'Nothing in sixteenth-century history is more astonishing than the career of Alessandro de' Medici' Hilary Mantel

In The Black Prince of Florence, a dramatic tale of assassination, spies and betrayal, the first retelling of Alessandro's life in two-hundred years opens a window onto the opulent, cut-throat world of Renaissance Italy.

‘Astonishing … gripping and original … a compelling portrait’ Financial Times

‘Packed with intrigue … Fletcher describes with cool menace the plotting and politicking that dominated Alessandro’s rule … brought splendidly to life in this excellent book’ Sunday Times

‘Engrossing … bursts with stabbings, poisonings, duels, eye-gougings, arquebus shootouts and people being run through with swords. Fletcher’s approach is scholarly yet dramatic, immersed in Renaissance glamour … a tremendous step forward in our knowledge of this intriguing man’ Spectator

‘Scintillating. This is everything a historical biography should be’ Ian Mortimer, author of The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England

The year is 1531. After years of brutal war and political intrigue, the bastard son of a Medici Duke and a ‘half-negro’ maidservant rides into Florence. Within a year, he rules the city as its Prince. Backed by the Pope and his future father-in-law the Holy Roman Emperor, the nineteen-year-old Alessandro faces down bloody family rivalry and the scheming hostility of Italy’s oligarchs to reassert the Medicis’ faltering grip on the turbulent city-state. Six years later, as he awaits an adulterous liaison, he will be murdered by his cousin in another man’s bed.

From dazzling palaces and Tuscan villas to the treacherous backstreets of Florence and the corridors of papal power, the story of Alessandro’s spectacular rise, magnificent reign and violent demise takes us deep beneath the surface of power in Renaissance Italy – a glamorous but deadly realm of spies, betrayal and vendetta, illicit sex and fabulous displays of wealth, where the colour of one’s skin meant little but the strength of one’s allegiances meant everything.

‘Bold, breathless and full of suspense’ The Times

‘Original, revelatory and gripping’ Jessie Childs, author of God's Traitors

‘Gripping … Fletcher describes in detail without losing momentum’ Economist

‘Fascinating and profound’ Paul Strathern, author of The Medici

‘Accomplished and original. A newly sympathetic portrait of a monarch whose rule in Florence was even more unlikely than Henry VII’s presence on the English throne’ Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of A History of Christianity

‘Brilliantly written and impeccably researched. A stunning book’ Tracy Borman, author of Thomas Cromwell

The Land Where Lemons Grow: The Story of Italy and its Citrus Fruit

Helena Attlee

Travellers have always been thrilled by the sight of citrus in Italy, where dark leaves and bright fruit seem to charge the landscape, making the trees symbols of a sun-soaked, poetic vision of the country. Citrus also holds a special place in the Italian imagination, and in The Land Where Lemons Grow, Helena Attlee sets out to explore its curious past and its enduring resonance in Italian culture. The Land Where Lemons Grow is a heady mixture of travel writing, history, horticulture and art; a unique journey through Italy's cultural, culinary and political past. Helena Attlee is the author of four books about Italian gardens, and others on the cultural history of gardens around the world. Helena is a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and has worked in Italy for nearly 30 years.

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

Jacob Buckhards and Peter Murray

For nineteenth-century Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt, the Italian Renaissance was nothing less than the beginning of the modern world - a world in which flourishing individualism and the competition for fame radically transformed science, the arts, and politics. In this landmark work he depicts the Italian city-states of Florence, Venice and Rome as providing the seeds of a new form of society, and traces the rise of the creative individual, from Dante to Michelangelo. A fascinating description of an era of cultural transition, this nineteenth-century masterpiece was to become the most influential interpretation of the Italian Renaissance, and anticipated ideas such as Nietzsche's concept of the 'Ubermensch' in its portrayal of an age of genius.

Art in Renaissance Italy

John T. Paoletti and Gary M. Radke

With a freshness and breadth of approach that sets the art in its context, this book explores why works were created and who commissioned the palaces, cathedrals, paintings, and sculptures. It covers Rome and Florence, Venice and the Veneto, Assisi, Siena, Milan, Pavia, Genoa, Padua, Mantua, Verona, Ferrara, Urbino, and Naples. Chapters are grouped into four chronological parts, allowing for a sustained examination of individual cities in different periods. "Contemporary Scene" boxes provide fascinating glimpses of daily life and "Contemporary Voice" boxes quote from painters and writers of the time. Innovative and scholarly, yet accessible and beautifully presented, this book is a definitive work on the Italian Renaissance. This revised edition contains around 200 new pictures and nearly all colour images.

The Merchant of Prato : Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City

Iris Origo

This extraordinary re-creation of the life of a medieval Italian merchant, Francesco di Marco Datini, is one of the greatest historical portraits written in the twentieth century. Drawing on an astonishing cache of letters unearthed centuries after Datini's death, it reveals to us a shrewd, enterprising, anxious man, as he makes deals, furnishes his sumptuous house, buys silks for his outspoken young wife and broods on his legacy. It is an unequalled source of knowledge about the texture of daily life in the small, earthy, violent, striving world of fourteenth-century Tuscany.

Book Depository

Still Life

Sarah Winman

From the author of When God was a Rabbit and Tin Man, Still Life is a big-hearted story of people brought together by love, war, art and the ghost of E.M. Forster.

1944, in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening.

Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian and possible spy. She has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the wreckage and relive memories of the time she encountered EM Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid in a particular Florentine room with a view.

Evelyn’s talk of truth and beauty plants a seed in Ulysses’ mind that will shape the trajectory of his life – and of those who love him – for the next four decades.

Moving from the Tuscan Hills and piazzas of Florence, to the smog of London’s East End, Still Life is a sweeping, joyful novel about beauty, love, family and fate.

Harper Collins

Articles about Florence


Brunelleschi's Dome: The Amateur turned Renaissance Genius

Filippo Brunelleschi. We will look at who he was and how he came to win the competition to design the dome for Florence's cathedral.

28 Nov 19 · 11 mins read
Read Article
Tour of Italy, Renaissance Sculpture Medici Lion by Vacca in Florence

Five Women of the Renaissance period to see on tour

Five Incredible Women of the Renaissance | Small Group Tours The Renaissance stands as one of humanity’s most profound intellectual and artistic revolutions, often overshadowed by narratives of renowned men and their contributions. While historical…

8 Oct 19 · 13 mins read
Read Article
Florence, Italy

History of a City: Florence, Italy

Florence or Firenze, article provides an overview of the history from inception from the Romans to Mussolini with plenty of the Renaissance covered. Includes a list of Museums and places to see in Tuscany. Background material for a small group package tour to Italy or long stay in Florence.

5 Jan 20 · 23 mins read
Read Article
Statue of Cosimo I of Medici, in front of Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Italian Renaissance Families: The Medicis

This blog is part of a series on five influential Italian Renaissance families that shaped Italy, especially during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is based on both our Italian Renaissance Summer School course, and…

11 Mar 22 · 13 mins read
Read Article
Urbino, Italy

Italian Renaissance Families: Urbino and the Montefeltro

This article (blog)is part of a series on five influential Italian Renaissance families that shaped Italy, especially during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is based on both our Italian Renaissance Summer School course, and…

28 Feb 18 · 5 mins read
Read Article
Tour of Italy, Renaissance Sculpture Medici Lion by Vacca in Florence

Key Figures of Renaissance Florence

Five Key Figures of Renaissance Florence | Small Group Tours Regarded as the ‘birthplace of the Renaissance’, Florence from 1400 to 1600 was in a religious, cultural and political ferment that was crucial to shaping…

8 Oct 19 · 11 mins read
Read Article
Caravaggio tours

Piecing together the life of Caravaggio

Uncovering Caravaggio The following article picks up on, and extends, our general introduction to Caravaggio. Here, we we delve further into the details of Caravaggio’s early life and relationships and use available evidence to piece…

11 Oct 19 · 19 mins read
Read Article
Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy

Questions about Italy

Escorted small group tours for mature and senior travellers to Italy. Designed for couples and solo travellers who like to explore and enjoy learning as they travel to Rome, Florence, Genoa, Venice, Naples, Sicily or Lake Garda and beyond.

25 Feb 20 · 2 mins read
Read Article
seeking Caravaggio's Nativity

Searching for Caravaggio's 'Nativity': Where is it today?

Searching for Caravaggio’s Nativity The hunt for Caravaggio’s stolen painting of the nativity scene may just be the most high-profile art crime of the 20th century. One stormy night in October 1969, an altarpiece painted…

8 Dec 19 · 7 mins read
Read Article
Florence, Italy

Secrets of Florence: The Definitive Guide for Travellers

Secrets of Florence: Ten Hidden Gems to Visit Florence, the capital of the Italian region of Tuscany, is considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance. Today the small city leaves behind a powerful legacy…

10 Oct 19 · 10 mins read
Read Article
Piazza della Signoria, a monument to Cosimo de 'Medici in Florence, Italy.

The Rise of the House of Medici

The House of Medici was an Italian banking family and political dynasty that de facto ruled the city of Florence during much of the Italian Renaissance.

5 Feb 20 · 12 mins read
Read Article
Italian Small Group Tours Bassano del Grapa Italy Veneto

Trip advice for Travellers going to Italy

Trip planning advice for Mature Travellers touring Italy Italy is one of the world’s great tourist destinations. This Trip planning advice for mature travellers going to Italy should assist you with your journey. With a…

12 Jun 17 · 8 mins read
Read Article

Related Tours

Articles about Italy

Related Tour Categories

History in-depth

Monet's Giverny Garden View 22 tours

Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

European Ballet escorted small groups tour for senior travellers View 19 tours


View 19 tours

Join 22,383 like-minded travellers receiving our weekly newsletter.

Special offers and promotions
A$350 AUD first trip travel voucher
The latest tours and articles