Insider's Florence

Explore the birthplace of the Renaissance and enjoy special access to the Florence's hidden treasures on this behind-the-scenes journey.

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 The famous Duomo or cathedral in Florence, featuring the campanile, Baptistery, and Brunelleschi's Dome  Michelangelo's <i>David</i>, the centerpiece of the Accademia. Credit: John Kellerman/Alamy  Palazzo Vecchio, Florence  Visitors outside the renowned Uffizi Gallery. Credit: John Kellerman/Alamy  Art work at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Credit: Art Kowalsky /  Botticelli's <i>The Birth of Venus</i> in the Uffizi in Florence  View of the Uffizi and the Vasari Corridor, which spans the Ponte Vecchio  The Ponte Vecchio, the renowned bridge in Florence crossing the Arno. Credit: Bart Parren  The iconic Duomo in Florence  Doors by Ghiberti at the Baptistery in Florence  The Palazzo Davanzati, which reflects the decor of a Renaissance home.  Credit: Hemis/Alamy  A leather artisan at work  Sightseeing in Florence with Ponte Vecchio in background  Villa Medici  Panoramic view of Florence

Tour Details



I learned an amazing amount, met many wonderful people and was more than impressed with the professional organization of the tour. A splendid experience! 

Richard S.

This is the perfect trip for the serious traveler – who wants an in-depth view of Florence, not the typical tour. The tour provides both an artistic and historical prospective with visits to unique sites. 

Susan F.

If you have any interest in Renaissance art, and in Florence, do not miss this tour. It is splendid from beginning to end.

Kathleen A.

This tour far exceeded my wildest expectations.

Donna F.

The trip exceeded our expectations. It got better every day. Each day we would think "how can they top this?" but they always did.

Martha S.


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Florence boasts a wealth of Renaissance treasures, yet many of its riches elude all but the most experienced travelers. During this exclusive tour, you’ll enjoy special access to some of Florence’s most celebrated sites during private after-hours visits and gain insight from local experts, curators, and museum directors.

Examine the masterpieces of the Uffizi on an exclusive visit when the galleries are closed to the public; join a former curator on a private behind-the-scenes tour of the museum's Vasari Corridor; and learn about restoration issues with a conservator in the Uffizi’s lab. Meet the director of the Casa Buonarroti for a tour of this museum dedicated to Michelangelo’s life and see some of the master’s early pieces. You’ll also explore the celebrated Baptistery and Duomo before opening hours on a private guided tour. Among other highlights, you’ll meet with artisans practicing their ages-old art forms, and during a special outing in the countryside, visit lovely villas and gardens once owned by the Medici family. Go beyond art history to better understand the region’s cuisine and wine during a special in-depth presentation. Plus, enjoy time at leisure to explore the city’s remarkable piazzas, restaurants, and other museums. Join us for this distinctive journey, which offers first-time and returning visitors a chance to delve deeper into the arts and treasures of Florence.


Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Florence, Italy

Day 2 — Arrive in Florence

Upon arrival transfer to your hotel, situated on a quiet street in the historic center of Florence, designated a World Heritage site. Enjoy an afternoon tour of your neighborhood near the Duomo before tonight's welcome reception and dinner. (R,D)

Day 3 — Uffizi Gallery, Vasari Corridor, and the Oltr’arno

The 16th-century Uffizi Gallery and Vasari Corridor hold some of Florence’s most renowned paintings, including famous portraits. Though typically closed on Mondays, the Uffizi will open its doors for Smithsonian Journeys. With your special access, stroll through the gallery’s stunning rooms without the press of crowds and view Renaissance masterpieces, including Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Michelangelo’s Holy Family, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation. A former curator guides you through the Vasari Corridor, the long passageway to the Pitti Palace that spans the Ponte Vecchio and houses portraits of famous artists. In the labyrinthine Oltr’arno neighborhood, visit artisan workshops and learn about traditional crafts, including paper-making, enameling, and silversmithing. Tonight, enjoy dinner and an in-depth Mediterranean food and wine lecture at a local Florentine restaurant. (B,D)

Day 4 — Brunelleschi’s Dome and the Baptistery

Brunelleschi’s distinctive dome helped transform Florence’s cathedral and the city itself. Join an Italian Renaissance expert for a guided tour of the Baptistery and Duomo before opening hours. Then climb up to the dome for a closer look at its marvelous frescoes and the revolutionary technology behind this 15th-century architectural wonder. At the Baptistery, admire Lorenzo Ghiberti’s 15th-century Gates of Paradise, a monumental set of cast bronze doors. Lunch and the remainder of the afternoon are free to give you time to explore more of what Florence has to offer: visit the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David, venture across the Oltr’arno to visit Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, or climb up to Piazzalle Michelangelo for a panoramic view of the city. (B)

Day 5 — Villas, Gardens, and Fortezza del Basso

Spend the morning discovering villas, gardens, and palaces with Nancy Leszczynski, a landscape architect. Visit Villa Gamberaia, a beautiful 17th-century villa in the hills above Florence, where Nancy will lead you through the house and beautiful gardens. Continue onto Fiesole for an exclusive visit to the gardens of Villa Medici, where Lorenzo the Magnificent once gathered together for his Neoplatonic Society. The Villa is now privately owned and closed to the public. On an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour with staff restorer Diane Kunzelman, visit the Fortezza del Basso, one of Italy’s foremost art restoration laboratories, and watch conservators at work on a Uffizi masterpiece. (B,L)

Day 6 — Daily Life in Renaissance Florence

During a special walking tour, view some of the city’s earliest architectural works, visit a home once owned by Michelangelo, and tour the museum in the Palazzo Davanzati for a glimpse of a typical household in Renaissance Florence. Explore the Romanesque Church of the Holy Apostles, and see the fine collection of Renaissance paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts at the Museo della Fondazione Horne. Meet the director of the Casa Buonarroti for a tour of the museum dedicated to Michelangelo’s life and see some of the master’s early pieces. Then, enjoy a special visit and tour of the 17th-century Palazzo Gondi followed by a reception with fellow participants and the gracious owners. (B,R)

Day 7 — Frescoes by Fra Angelico, del Sarto, and del Castagno

Venture off the beaten path to discover lesser-known frescoes by Florentine masters. At the Dominican convent of San Marco, examine the rich paintings of Fra Angelico. See Andrea del Sarto’s stunning monochromatic fresco of the life of St. John the Baptist at the charming 16th-century Chiostro dello Scalzo. At the former Benedictine convent of Sant’Apollonia, admire Andrea del Castagno’s masterpiece The Last Supper. Following an afternoon at leisure, celebrate your Florentine sojourn at a farewell reception in the hotel’s museum followed by dinner at a local restaurant. (B,R,D)

Day 8 — Depart Florence

Depart Florence for the U.S. on individual flights. (B)