Italy’s Tuscany & Umbria: Art & Architecture Tour

Italy
Italy

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    3669
    • TBA 2025
    • 13 Days
    • TBA + air
    • Single Supplement: TBA

    Admire Italy’s Renaissance Heritage in Florence, Siena, Assisi, Orvieto, and Many More Charming Hill Towns with Our Art Tour of Tuscany & Umbria

    Take your dream art trip to Italy to an entirely different level. Experience the rich tapestry of Italian culture in a journey like no other with our meticulously curated art tours of Tuscany and Umbria. Tuscany, the cradle of Renaissance, arguably one of the most influential eras in Western Civilization, lies at the heart of Italy.

    It’s in this remarkable region where art, architecture, religion, and politics converged, giving birth to a timeless cultural legacy that continues to inspire and fascinate.

    Embark on a memorable 13-day expedition tracing the evolution of art and architecture in the evocative landscapes of Tuscany and Umbria. Our Tuscany and Umbria tour will transport you to an epoch of grandeur and refinement.

    Our journey is led by none other than Professor William R. Cook, renowned academic and sought-after lecturer for ‘The Great Courses’. His insightful commentary and deep knowledge will enrich your understanding of the timeless treasures found in these regions.

    An Unforgettable Cultural Tour of Italy

    Our tour commences in the iconic cities of Florence, Siena, and Assisi, which are brimming with architectural and artistic masterpieces. From the tranquil corridors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence to the serene Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, every location is a testament to the artistic prowess of the past.

    The expedition doesn’t end there. We will also be venturing to charming hilltop towns like San Gimignano, Spoleto, and Orvieto, among others. These places, steeped in history and culture, are like frozen snapshots of an era gone by, yet they still vibrate with the hum of contemporary Italian life.

    Join our art tour of Tuscany and Umbria for an intimate group tour (max. 14 guests), that guarantees a personalized experience. Together, let’s retrace the history of art and culture in these remarkable regions, on a journey that promises to be as enlightening as it is unforgettable.

    If you have any questions, please get in touch.

    Italian Culture Tour Led by:

    Dr William R. Cook

    Professor of History

    State University of New York – Geneseo
    Department of History

    Why Take this Incredible Tour in Italy?

    • Led by William Cook, lecturer for The Great Courses
    • Visit four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the historic centers of Assisi, Florence, San Gimignano, and Siena
    • Spend three full days exploring picturesque Florence
    • Enter the Onda Contrada Chapel and Treasury in Siena
    • Step back in time listening to medieval Gregorian Chants by Monks
    • Limited to 14 participants

    Italian Culture Tour Itinerary

    (B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner

    Day 1Depart for Italy

    Depart on a flight bound for Florence, Italy.

    Day 2Arrive in Florence

    Arrive into Florence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the evening, enjoy a walking tour before heading out to our Welcome Dinner. Overnight for four nights at an elegant, centrally located hotel. (D)

    Day 3Explore Florence - Galleria degli Uffizi

    Begin today in the heart of Florence with a visit to the famed Galleria degli Uffizi. This 16th century palace once housed government offices but is now home to the world’s greatest collection of Renaissance art. Savor this opportunity to admire Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’, Michelangelo’s ‘Holy Family’, da Vinci’s ‘Adoration of the Magi’ and Raphael’s ‘Madonna and the Goldfinch’ and many more.

    Next, we peek at the Vasari Corridor, built on the order of Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici so that he could pass from the palace to his government offices without being exposed to the threat of the public.

    Move on to Brunelleschi’s Ospedale degli Innocenti. More than an architectural milestone, within this structure infants and children have been cared for for more than five centuries. This evening dinner is on our own. (B/L)

    Day 4Explore Florence

    We continue our explorations of Florence today at the Piazza della Signoria with a visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia, where we take in Michelangelo’s David along with many other impressive Renaissance sculptures and paintings. Next it’s on to the Basilica di Santa Croce. The largest Franciscan church in the world, it is also the burial place of many illustrious Italians including Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. Next, examine the many historical layers of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Originally begun in the 13th century in the Gothic style of Arnolfo di Cambio, the structure was not completed until the 15th century with the placement of the dome engineered by Brunelleschi. The façade, however, was decorated during the Gothic revival of the 19th century. Also view the Battistero di San Giovanni and the Campanile di Giotto. These three structures make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue on to the Loggia del Bigallo a late Gothic structure built in the mid 14th century. We conclude the day at San Martino del Vescovo the parish church of the Aligheri and Donati families constructed in the 986 AD. The walls are decorated with breathtaking frescos by Ghirlandaio. (B/L/D)

    Day 5Explore Florence

    Today we delve further into the ecclesiastic architectural wonders of Florence. Start at the Convent of San Marco which now houses the Museo Nazionale di San Marco. With an entranceway frescoed by Bernardino Poccetti, this unique museum boasts a wide collection of the works of Fra Angelico including ‘Deposition’. There are also a great number of small frescos by the artist and his assistants in the monastic cells within the complex.

    Next, we proceed to Sant’Apollonia. Once a Benedictine convent, the structure has been converted into an art museum. Here we view the Andrea del Castagno’s breathtaking fresco, ‘The Last Supper’.  We continue on to the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata. The interior is of Baroque design dating to the mid 17th century. Move on to Brunelleschi’s Ospedale degli Innocenti. More than an architectural milestone, within this structure infants and children have been cared for for more than five centuries. Not far is the Gothic Basilica di Santa Maria Novella. Building of this Dominican church began around 1246 and was completed in the mid-14th century.

    Next we visit one of the first examples of Baroque architecture to penetrate this iconic Renaissance city, the Franciscan Chiesa di San Salvatore di Ognissanti. The neighboring Basilica di Santa Trinita is known for its Sassetti Chapel which contains impressive  frescos by Ghirlandaio which date to the 15th century.

    Continue on to the Chiesa di Orsanmichele, the exterior of which presents fourteen external niches which house intricate sculptures, all produced by local guilds. Basilica di Santa Maria del Carmine home to the Cappella Brancacci which has been pinpointed as the starting point of the new Renaissance style painting, evidenced by the frescos housed within. We also see the Basilica di Santo Spirito designed by Brunelleschi and constructed by his followers after his death. This church displays a large fresco portraying the crucifixion over the last supper and is one of the rare examples of late Gothic art which can still be seen in Florence.

    We conclude the day at the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. San Miniato is recognized as the first Christian martyr of the city. He was an Armenian prince serving the Roman army. The Emperor ordered him thrown to the beasts; the panther, however, refused to devour him. He was subsequently beheaded and is said to have picked up his head, crossed the Arno and walked up the hill to his hermitage. A shrine was constructed on this spot, followed by a chapel. Here we listen to mesmerizing Gregorian Chants. Tonight dinner is on our own. (B/L)

    Day 6Villa Machiavelli and San Gimignano

    This morning venture into the Tuscan countryside to the small village of Sant’Andrea a Percussina to visit the picturesque Villa Machiavelli.  It is here that Machiavelli wrote his treatise ‘The Prince’. In the Osteria of the Albergaccio, where Machiavelli spent much of his time, we enjoy a lunch of traditional Tuscan fare.  Continue on to San Gimignano. In the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visit the Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta. Here we see fresco cycles which include works by the Renaissance artists Ghirlandaio and Taddeo di Bartolo amongst many others. Within the church we find the Cappella di Santa Fina, an early Renaissance chapel built to enshrine the relics of Santa Fina, known for her devotion and curative powers. Proceed to the Chiesa di Sant’Agostino, a 13th century building with a seventeen-panel fresco cycle painted by Benozzo Gozzoli on ‘The Life of Saint Augustine’. We then head to Siena and overnight for three nights at the Hotel NH Siena. (B/L/D)

    Day 7Explore Siena

    Today and tomorrow we explore the architectural and cultural wealth of Siena. Begin at the Cattedrale Metropolitana di Santa Maria Assunta. The façade alone is one of the most inspiring in Italy, displaying French Gothic, Tuscan Romanesque and Classical architectural styles. Also see the Santuario di Santa Caterina which honors Caterina Benincasa, the daughter of a local dyer, who is said to have had visions of Christ and received the stigmata. She is credited with convincing the Pope to leave Avignon and restore the seat of the papacy to Rome. Nearly a century after her death she was canonized and was later named the patron saint of Italy. The sanctuary we visit is the house where she was born. The kitchen was converted into an oratory and ornately decorated with paintings by Il Pomarancio, Il Riccio, Francesco Vanni. Dinner tonight is on our own. (B/L)

    Day 8 Explore Siena

    We continue our explorations of Siena today at the Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala, one of the first hospitals in Europe and one of the oldest still surviving. This structure holds great cultural importance, once an important hospital dedicated to caring for abandoned children, the poor, the sick and pilgrims, it is now a museum. Another museum, the Pinocateca Nazionale di Siena, is home to an impressive collection of Medieval and Renaissance art of the Sienese school.

    We also enjoy a visit the Contrada Capitale di Onda museum and church, not open to the public. This contrada is one of the 17 contrade that compete in the Palio. Now serving a less administrative role, the contrada has become more of an event planning committee for the community and is held together by the sincere emotion and devotion of the people. (B/L/D)

    Day 9Montalcino and Spoleto

    On the road again, we head towards Assisi, stopping along the way in Montalcino to explore La Rocca, a ruined 14th century castle.  Next, Spoleto awaits! Built in the 12th century after the destruction wreaked by Barbarossa’s troops, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta is Romanesque in essence. Although modifications have been made throughout the centuries, the cathedral maintains the original Cosmatesque floor of the central apse.

    The nearby Basilica di San Salvatore was already a paleo-Christian place of worship in the fourth and fifth centuries, well before the Lombards heavily renovated the structure in the 8th century. Though the interior is now sparsely decorated one can still appreciate the detailed Doric capitals and friezes. Next, we visit the unassuming Chiesa di Sant’Eufemia. The eye-catching alter has a marble antependium with Cosmatesque inlay work as well as bas reliefs. Continue on and overnight for two nights at the Hotel Giotto in Assisi. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)

    Day 10 Explore Basilica Papale di San Francesco d’Assisi

    As Assisi is where Saint Francis spent his life, today and tomorrow we immerse ourselves in Franciscan lore. The Chiesa di San Damiano is, according to legend, where the icon of the crucified Jesus Christ came to life and said to Francis, “go and repair my house”. The future Saint took the command literally and restored the small ruined church in the woods nearby. This tiny place of worship became a favorite place of prayer and reflection for the saint. In fact, it is here that the Franciscan movement is said to have been founded. This 9th century church which became known as La Porziuncola is now situated inside the Mannerist Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli.

    The true highlight of the day, however, is the incomparable Basilica Papale di San Francesco d’Assisi. The interior serves as a testament to the development of Italian art and is covered with brightly colored frescos done by artists from both the Roman and Tuscan schools including Cimabue and Giotto. The architectural style itself is a synthesis of Renaissance and Gothic tendencies. (B/L/D)

    Day 11Assisi and Todi

    We continue our explorations of Assisi at the Basilica di Santa Chiara d’Assisi, dedicated to Saint Claire a follower of Saint Francis and founder of the Order of the Poor Ladies, and the Eremo delle Carceri, a small hermitage to which Saint Francis and his followers would retreat and dedicate themselves to prayer and meditation.

    This afternoon stop at the charming hilltop town of Todi on our way to Orvieto where we overnight for one night at the Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini. We gather this evening for our Farewell Dinner. (B/L/D)

    Day 12Orvieto

    Rising above the town of Orvieto, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta displays design elements from the 14th to the 20th centuries. The building’s façade is done in the Tuscan Gothic style and presents an imposing rose window, glittering mosaics and elephantine bronze doors. Enjoy some time this afternoon to wander the cobblestone streets before transferring back to Florence.  Overnight at The Gate Hotel, conveniently located next to the airport.  Dinner is on our own. (B/L)

    Day 13Depart Italy

    Transfer to the airport for the flight home. (B)

    Tour Information

    Tour Cost & Inclusions

    Price is based on double occupancy and includes:

    • Internal flights during the trip (if applicable)
    • The accompaniment of your scholar throughout the entire trip
    • Local English-speaking guide
    • Hotel accommodations (3 or 4 stars; or best available based in the area)
    • Ground transportation
    • Airport transfers for arrivals and departures
    • Most meals as noted in the itinerary
    • Entry fees to all included sites and museums
    • Gratuities to guides, drivers, and restaurant and hotel staff
    • Coordination for any private presentations or tours

    Trip prices are based on a minimum number of participants. If this minimum number is not met, trip prices are subject to change. Should the prices need to change, Far Horizons will reach out to registered guests to discuss directly.

    Single Supplement

    Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.

    Exclusions

    • International round trip airfare
    • A separate donation check of $150.00 per person to a designated donation project
    • Passport or visa fees
    • Required vaccines or tests
    • Airport or departure taxes
    • Alcoholic drinks, beverages or food not included on set menus
    • Excess baggage charges
    • Personal tips and hotel incidental expenses
    • Laundry or other items of a personal nature

    Donation Checks

    As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural sites and projects which we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant donate to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.

    Exchange Rate Fluctuations

    Prices are based on currency exchange rates keeping below a projected level. While it is unlikely, if the exchange rates should change substantially, Far Horizons reserves the right to charge an additional amount to the trip cost.

    Registration

    A deposit of $1000 per person is required along with your registration & health forms, which will be linked in the email confirmation you receive once you pay your deposit on our booking platform. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Prior to departure, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information.

    Cancellation

    Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $500 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Links to recommended insurance policies will be included in the email you receive confirming receipt of your deposit.

    Air Ticketing

    International round trip flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.

    Private Tours and Talks

    The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.

    Walking and Standing

    Far Horizons expects all participants to be physically active and able to walk and climb independently throughout the full touring days. This includes walking over uneven terrain (uphill and downhill) for 2 miles or more at each site. You should expect to be on your feet for much of each day, averaging as much as 5 miles of walking per day. As such, each participant should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 60 minutes. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that, if you have not already done so, you begin walking several miles every day, ideally including stairs and hills. If you have questions about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.

    Travel in This Part of the World

    This tour is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We have designed this trip to be as comfortable as possible, while also aiming to visit some remote or unique sites that other companies do not attempt to include in their itineraries. There may be days where we have very long drives and the conditions of the roads may vary. Hotels and transportation in some remote areas may not be up to western standards. There may be times when no bellhops are available; please pack with the understanding that you need to be able to handle your own luggage at times. At times we may be walking over uneven trails for a mile or more; hiking boots are strongly recommended. Not every meal will not be haute cuisine and several lunches may be picnics or box lunches. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.

    Itinerary Changes

    Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. While we are committed to keeping as close to the published details as possible, sometimes it is simply not possible. Weather events, government affairs, or other factors out of our control sometimes come into play. A good book to read as well as patience, flexible attitude, and a sense of humor are essential.

    Travel Insurance

    We strongly recommend that you consider purchasing travel insurance. Should illness or an unforeseen event force you to cancel your travel plans after your final payment or during your trip, it would be doubly unfortunate to incur a significant financial loss. Trip cancellation protection will enable you to be reimbursed for the loss of your payment if you are unable to travel for any of the covered reasons in the “Outline of Coverage” section, or should you have an accident or suffer from any medical conditions during the trip.  
    Far Horizons offers customized protection plans through Travel Insured International (a Crum & Forster Company) with the following benefits:
     
    • Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption for covered reasons
    • Trip Delay
    • Baggage Loss and Baggage Delay
    • Emergency Medical Expenses and Emergency Medical Evacuation
    • 24-Hour Accidental Death & Dismemberment
    • 24-Hour Travel Assistance & Concierge Services
    • Option to upgrade to ‘Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)’
     
    We recommend reviewing the language in detail so you are aware of specific parameters; Depending on the policy, to waive the Pre-Existing Medical Condition Exclusion or to upgrade to CFAR coverage, the plan must be purchased within 14 to 21 days of the initial trip deposit, full trip cost must be insured, and traveler is medically fit at time of plan purchase. Otherwise, coverage may be purchased at any time prior to departure. 
     
    To obtain a personalized quote and/or purchase a plan through Far Horizons/Travel Insured International, simply click HERE. For specific questions regarding the Worldwide Protector Plan, please contact Travel Insured International’s Customer Care Center at 1-800-243-3174 or by email at customercare@travelinsured.com, and refer to Far Horizons’ account number: 54070.

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