Our trip begins at 9:15 a.m. at 5 star
Westin Excelsior Hotel, Florence, our home for
three nights. For three full days our private guide
will immerse us in this city cherished for its
priceless art and architecture from the Renaissance
and Baroque eras. Today our guided walk includes
the Piazza San Marco and its restored 15th century
Dominican monastery, whose museum and cells
house famous masterpieces such as the Crucifixion,
the Annunciation, and a fresco of The Last Supper.
Then to the Piazza Duomo’s 13th century cathedral
and cupola, with origins of its baptistry dating to
Roman times. After lunch enjoy an unhurried visit
to Michelangelo’s original 16th century statue of
David. Dinner at La Tavola di Pier Capponi.
Today our guide will take us to Uffizi
Gallery, one of the most important museums in the
world for its works by Botticelli, da Vinci, Raphael,
Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and more. We have also
arranged a special, private visit of the historic
Vasarian Corridor, an elevated path not open to
the public between the Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi
Gallery built in 1565. The corridor allowed the
Medici family to join in local celebrations without
mixing with the populace. After lunch we will
spend time at the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge
in Florence and since the 15th century lined with
interesting shops. Fun and festive evening dinner
party at Il Latini.
Morning visit of the Palatine Gallery at
Pitti Palace, a collection of masters’ paintings and
sculptures owned largely by the Medici family and
left to the people of Florence. Late morning we’ll
explore gorgeous, 16th century Boboli gardens filled
with grottos and sculptures. After lunch our guided,
three hour walk takes us through Florence’s Old
Quarter to Brancacci Chapel, one of the city’s
greatest ancient treasures with Masaccio’s and Masolino’s 15th century frescoes of the life of St.
Peter. Spectacular dinner party in Florence.
Depart Florence mid morning for an exclusive
luncheon and afternoon with Prince Duccio Corsini
and his wife at Villa Le Corti, the family’s olive oil
and wine estate. One of the region’s finest examples
of Renaissance architecture, the towered villa in its
spectacular hilltop setting has been in the Corsini
family since 1427. A short drive leads to 5 star Hotel
le Fontanelle, a beautifully restored 13th century
farmhouse across the valley from Castello di Brolio.
Dinner in our elegant surroundings, where we’ll
spend the next two nights.
Palio! A Tuscan country morning, then
we’re off to Palio, Siena’s passionate historical
event which embodies the ancient rivalries of the
City’s 17 neighborhoods known as ‘contrades.’ For
centuries, Palio has been a Festival of immense
pageantry culminating with a bareback horse race
around the Piazza Del Campo. We’ll take our
reserved, well placed seats for the traditional flag
and drum corp performances by all 17 contrada. A
magnificent procession led by 24 members of the
mounted police of Rome is followed by 22 members
from each contrada in spectacular, medieval dress.
The 10 horses running for the Palio enter the track,
having just been blessed in church. Ridden bareback
three times around the square, the first horse to cross
the finish line with or without rider is pronounced the
winner. After much emotional celebration a superb
dinner awaits us at Mugalone’s.
Depart le Fontanelle for private luncheon
hosted by our good friend, the Countess Sandra
Bianchi Bandinelli in her 16th century Villa di
Geggiano. Her personable son, Andrea, shares the
home’s rich past with us and it is he who makes
the excellent wine we will enjoy at their elegant
table. Check in for four nights at 5 star Grand Hotel Continental in downtown Siena, a lovingly restored
17th century palace just steps from the Piazza Del
Campo. Late afternoon free time in town, then
meet for a fun dinner party.
Our first early morning balloon adventure
takes us across Siena’s ancient rooftops, waving to
the Sienese who lean from their windows to greet
us with a cheerful “Buon Giorno!” From our balloons
this medieval town is sensational and these city
crossings are spectacular. After ballooning our
guide will walk us through the Siena’s narrow,
Gothic streets lined with palaces, and the great
cathedral built in the 1200’s. Towers, alleys, and
romantic hidden passages lead to open piazzas and
elegant boutiques. Today we’ll be the private luncheon
guests of our friend, Marissa Cardini, in her art-filled
penthouse overlooking the ancient clay rooftops.
Her daughter, Fiama, is a treasured source of insights
into the Sienese culture. Late afternoon free time in
town, then meet for our dinner party.
Our early morning balloon adventure
takes off just outside the 13th century ramparts of
medieval San Gimignano, for spectacular views of
this walled architectural jewel and the surrounding
vineyard covered hills, appearing almost exactly as
they did 700 years ago. After a walking tour of the
town we’ll be the private luncheon guests of our
close friends, Princess Irina Guicciardini-Strozzi
and her husband, Prince Girolamo. The Prince and
Princess represent two of Italy’s most historic family
lines, and the Guicciardini family was recently
discovered to be descended from Lisa Gherardini
del Giocondo, the Mona Lisa. We’ll dine at the family’s
Villa Cusona, dating from 994 and the setting for
the movie, “The Winds of War”, and whose vineyards
have produced magnificent wines for more than
1,000 years. After an exceptional afternoon with
our friends and a gracious tour of their estate, we’ll
return to Siena and meet later for dinner.
Early morning balloon adventure across
Siena, through olive groves and hilltop fortresses
to just-awakening locals in their gardens. Today’s
private luncheon is hosted by our friends, Baron
and Baroness Bettino and Constanza Ricasoli at
their massive ancestral home, Castello di Brolio.
The huge fortress and wine estate has been in the
family since the 11th century, and the creation of
Chianti Classico and Classico Reserva was the
work of the Baron’s great grandfather at Brolio.
Luncheon will be served in the ancient Knight’s
Hall where in 1555 battle plans for the siege of
Siena were drawn, and where battle armor is still
kept. After a memorable visit we’ll return to our
hotel and meet later for dinner.
Romantic Tuscany is spread before us
during our last early morning balloon adventure.
We’ll tiptoe across the historic rooftops and through
the old cobblestone streets for one last look at a
place you’ll never again experience in quite the
same way. After lunch transfer to Westin Excelsior
Hotel, Florence, arriving about 2:30 p.m.
Three nights at the 5 star Westin Excelsior Hotel in Florence
Four nights at the 5 star Grand Hotel Continental in Siena
Three full days of escorted visits into Baroque & Renaissance Florence, including unhurried visits to Michelangelo’s David, Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, Old Quarter of Oltrarno & Brancacci Chapel, private visit of Vasarian Corridor, and much more
Optional shopping in Florence
Private luncheon and afternoon with Prince Duccio Corsini and his wife at Villa la Corti, the family’s
olive oil and wine estate since 1427
Guided tour of medieval Siena, with a private luncheon and spectacular view of the oldest part
of the town from a lovely penthouse apartment
A morning exploring the country estate “Geggiano” followed by luncheon with the owner,
Countess Sandra Bianca-Bandinelli
Guided tour of 13th century town of San Gimignano with luncheon at Villa Cusona,
the home of Prince and Princess Guicciardini-Strozzi, and private tour of the estate
Guided tour of the 11th century fortress, Castello di Brolio, and luncheon with the owners Baron
and Baroness Ricasoli
Four scheduled early morning balloon adventures exploring Siena and San Gimignano
Festive dinner parties throughout
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