This 13-day residential-style tour offers time to appreciate fully the history and culture of Italy’s premier art cities Florence and Venice. See world-class galleries and museums, private villas, palaces and gardens, visit difficult-to-access sites, like a private after-hours visit of St Mark’s Basilica to witness the illumination of the mosaics. Enjoy excellent dining in carefully selected restaurants, designed to showcase the best of Florentine and Venetian gastronomic traditions.
The world’s greatest concentration of masterpieces from the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Florence
Florence beyond the Renaissance from local traditions to contemporary architecture
The history of Venice and its key role in the Mediterranean during the Crusades and the Renaissance
The unique art and architecture of Venice, visiting centuries-old sites and world-class museums
The excellent food and wine traditions of Tuscany and the Veneto
Connect this tour
with Naples, Capri & Rome, March 2018. Consider combining both of these tours, Naples, Capri & Rome and Florence, Ravenna & Venice to create a 26-day program touring the major cities and cultural highlights of Italy. Travel from Naples to Venice with 4 days in between each tour to celebrate Easter in Italy.
Private visit to explore the secret passageways of the Palazzo Vecchio
The impressive garden at Villa Gamberaia in Settignano
View the splendid 5th and 6th-century Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna
Italy’s leading art museums, including the Uffizi and the Venice Accademia
Three centuries of Venetian painting: Carpaccio, Bellini, Titian, Veronese and Tiepolo
Private after-hours visit of St Mark’s Basilica to witness the illumination of the Mosaics
Days 1–5: Examine masterpieces in the Uffizi and explore the secret passageways of the Palazzo Vecchio. Admire the garden at Villa Gamberaia, and sample a storied Tuscan wine at a stunning contemporary vineyard.
Days 6–7: In Ravenna, admire the mosaicencrusted churches and, further north, elegant Palladian villas.
Days 8–13: Orient yourself in Venice with a trip around the lagoon and visits to key museums and art galleries. Enjoy a private evening visit to St Mark’s Basilica for the illumination of the mosaics.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Emirates flies into Bologna and out of Venice at times that coincide with the tour. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Tuesday April 3: Arrive
The tour starts this afternoon, when we meet in the hotel for a walking tour of the historic centre of Florence, from the Ponte Vecchio, through the medieval streets of the Oltrarno with their artisan workshops, and the palaces of some of Florence’s great Renaissance families, which now house galleries, designer flagships and boutiques. In the early evening, we enjoy a welcome dinner. Overnight Florence (D)
Wednesday April 4: The Renaissance in Florence
From the 1200-1500s Florence was one of the economic and cultural powerhouses of Europe and its citizens – from Dante, to Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli and the Medici – revolutionised banking, literature, politics and art. After a background talk in the hotel, we explore the genesis of the Italian Renaissance. Our morning walking tour includes a visit to Orsanmichele and Santa Maria Novella, which has extensive frescoes by Masaccio, Uccello, Ghirlandaio and Lippi. Seeing these works in their original context gives us a better understanding of the social and political relationships behind Renaissance art, and the particularly complex demands placed on artists. In the afternoon, we have a guided visit of the 15th century palace of the Medici, with its jewel like chapel painted by Benozzo Gozzoli, and their local church, San Lorenzo – a beautiful church designed by Brunelleschi, with works by Donatello and Verrocchio inside, and the Medici Chapels nearby, with tombs by Michelangelo. Evening at leisure. Overnight Florence (B)
Thursday April 5: Sculpture and the Dome
The cupola of Florence’s cathedral is symbolic of the confidence, energy and audacity of Renaissance Florentines. When work started on the new cathedral in 1290s, the architects knew they did not yet have the technology to span the space, but proceeded nonetheless. Brunelleschi’s dome was an awe inspiring achievement both in terms of engineering and aesthetics. But the dome was just one part of a much larger project to represent the greatness of Florence and its citizens. After a morning talk, we explore the sculpture and architecture of Renaissance Florence. We visit the Bargello for its excellent collection of sculpture and the recently renovated Museo del Opera del Duomo, which has Ghiberti’s extraordinary ‘Gates of Paradise’ and a beautiful Pieta by Michelangelo. In the late afternoon, we ascend to the terraces of cathedral. Evening at leisure. Overnight Florence (B)
Friday April 6: Villas and Fiesole
According to classical authorities, one must have a place to go to relax just outside the city and high enough to provide respite from the summer heat. The hills to the north of Florence provided exactly this, and the villas have been built here since the 1400s. This morning we visit Villa Gamberaia, whose 18th-century formal gardens take perfect advantage of the views across the Tuscan countryside, and Villa Le Balze, whose gardens were designed by Cecil Pincent. After lunch at Villa San Michele, an excellent and exclusive restaurant, we visit the town of Fiesole, with its Etrsucan and Roman ruins, and picturesque views over Florence and the countryside. Evening at leisure. Overnight Florence (B, L)
Saturday April 7: Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi
When the Medici took control of the city in the 1500s, they set about radically transforming it in their image. The Palazzo Vecchio was transformed from a republican city hall to a ducal private residence, and it is lavishly decorated with scenes from history and mythology. The administration of their duchy was moved into the custom-built Uffizi next door. The Uffizi has undergone a lot of changes over the years; most recently it has been renovated and enlarged, so that there is more than double the amount of space to display their treasures. After a talk in the morning, we have a guided visit of the Palazzo Vecchio, including its secret passages, usually unavailable to the public. In the early afternoon, we have a guided visit of the Uffizi, followed by time explore the galleries independently. Evening at leisure. Overnight Florence. (B)
Sunday April 8: Prato
We depart by coach this morning for Ravenna. Our first stop on route the Medici villa at Poggio ai Caiano. This villa was designed for Lorenzo the Magnificent in the late 1400s and completed by his son, Pope Leo X. In addition to being an excellent example of Renaissance architecture, it has well-preserved 16th-century frescoes by Pontormo and Andrea del Sarto. We continue by coach to Prato, a well-preserved and quiet medieval city that has thrived on cloth production. After touring the historic centre, we break for lunch, and then continue to Ravenna, arriving in the late afternoon. Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Ravenna (B, D)
Monday April 9: Ravenna
Ravenna was the capital of successive Roman, Ostrogothic and Byzantine empires in Italy and each has left a permanent testament to itself in the city. The changing styles and values of each ruler is most apparent in the World Heritage listed mosaics of Ravenna, which move from the naturalism of Roman mosaics in Sant Appolinare in Classe, to the imperial Byzantine style of Justinian in San Vitale, itself one of the most influential buildings of Late Antiquity. After a talk in the hotel, we explore the wonders of Ravenna. Later afternoon and evening at leisure. Overnight, Ravenna. (B)
Tuesday 10 April: Villas of Palladio
Palladio’s villas have influenced architects from Inigo Jones to Thomas Jefferson and beyond. His villas in the Veneto are among his finest and best preserved works showcase why his careful use of proportions and balance between beauty and utility has been so perennially popular. We depart Ravenna by coach today. Our first stop is the Villa Barbaro at Maser, one of Palladio’s finest creations, and equally well known for the frescoes by Veronese inside. After lunch at the villa – which still produces its own wine – we continue to the Villa Emo, perhaps the most perfectly conceived and executed of Palladio’s villas. in the mid-afternoon, we continue to Venice. Evening at leisure. Overnight Venice. (B, L)
Wednesday 11 April: Venice and San Marco
Venice’s unique location, history, and form of government have made it a place like no other. This morning we have a guided tour of the Doge’s Palace, whose interior was decorated by Titian, Tintoretto and others in the 1500s. After a break for lunch, we visit San Giorgio Maggiore, the church by Palladio that dominates the view across the lagoon from San Marco. In the early evening, we meet again for a private, after-hours visit of Saint Marks Basilica. The basilica will be illuminated specially for us, so we can enjoy it in all its glory, free from the usual crowds. Overnight, Venice. (B)
Thursday 12 April: Islands of Venice
The Venice Lagoon was settled by groups of refugees from nearby Roman cities, who were fleeing the destruction and danger of various barbarian incursions. The earliest settlements were scattered across the lagoon, and some remain today as quieter, smaller island communities with their own identities. Today we travel to Murano, famed for its glass production, and then to Burano, a small island best known for its colourful fishing houses and lacemaking. After a break for lunch, we visit Torcello, one of the earliest and most significant settlements in the lagoon. Torcello’s former significance is reflected in its cathedral and mosaics inspired by the Greek world, and Santa Fosca, 12th century church built in a Greek cross as a mausoleum for two saints from Roman Ravenna. Returning to Venice, evening at leisure. Overnight Venice (B)
Friday 13 April: Renaissance Art in Venice
Venice has traditionally bridged eastern and western Mediterranean and European cultures and this is reflected in its art, which is traditionally a fusion of influences, little seen outside of Venice. Venetian art and architecture, however, underwent extraordinary changes in the later fifteenth century, that led to the artists, architects, poets and musicians of subsequent centuries being among the most important in Europe: Titian, Palladio, Veronese, Tintoretto, Vivaldi and so forth. Today, we explore the art of Venice visiting the Accademia in the morning. In the afternoon we visit the Frari – home to magnificent works by Bellini, Titian and Donatello – and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, which has two floors of monumental works by Tintoretto still in their original locations. Later afternoon and evening at leisure. Overnight Venice (B)
Saturday 14 April: Modern art in Venice
Venice reinvented itself in the 20th century as a city of art, following the success of the Venice Biennale – the first event of its kind. In addition to Italy’s first museum dedicated to modern art, the city has steadily become home to significant private collections. This morning we visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The gallery, which has more than doubled in size since the 1990s, holds the extraordinary works collected by Peggy Guggenheim, who introduced Europe to American art, and several other collections that have been acquired or permanently loaned. In the afternoon, there is an optional visit to the Punta della Dogana – an 18th-century customs house converted into a museum by Tadao Ando to exhibit the contemporary art collection of Francois Pinault. This evening, we enjoy a farewell meal in a superior restaurant. Overnight Venice (B, D)
Sunday 15 April: Departure
The tour ends this morning. A transfer to the airport will be available for those on flights leaving in the early afternoon. (B)
Dr Nick Gordon
Has a University Medal and a PhD in History and lectures on European art. Nick is also a practicing painter and brings this passion to the visual arts.
Dr Nick Gordon is a cultural historian and artist, with over 10 years of experience leading tours to Europe. He has strong interests in art, history, philosophy and architecture, from the ancient world to the present.
Nick holds a University Medal and PhD in history from the University of Sydney. He taught medieval and Renaissance history at the University of Sydney, the history of political thought at the University of Western Sydney, and architectural and Australian history elsewhere. He continues to teach at the Centre of Continuing Education, and gives occasional lectures on topics ranging from Classical Rome through to Australian and contemporary art. Nick has lead tours for Academy Travel since 2007, and designs study tours, residential tours and art-focussed tours, such as the Venice Biennale, Art Along the Rhine, Art Basel, and Amsterdam to Paris: Van Eyck to Van Gogh.
Nick is also an artist and his firsthand experience of art complements his academic expertise, through his knowledge of materials and the processes behind how an artwork is made, and his well-practiced eye for reading art.
We asked Nick, what do you enjoy most about tour leading?
“One of the things I enjoy most about touring is helping people understand more about what they’re seeing. This happens through a combination of background lectures exploring different contexts, cultural commentary on the road, and especially by being able to explain what is going on in an artwork with the artwork in front of us.”
“The aim of all of this is to help people see more for themselves, independently, both on tour and beyond. Some of the best moments for me on tour are when this happens, and you get to be part of something bigger as people start adding their own knowledge and experience to what we’re looking at. It makes each experience unique.”
Hotels have been selected principally for their central location. All hotels are excellent 4-star properties that are within renovated palazzi.
Florence, Hotel Berchielli (5 nights) www.berchielli.it
Ravenna, Hotel Palazzo Bezzi (2 nights) www.palazzobezzi.it/
Venice, Hotel Al Codega (5 nights) www.hotelalcodega.com
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.