Explore the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci in Florence and Milan, immerse yourself in creations by his contemporaries, and come to understand the role of collaboration and shared ideas among the great thinkers of his day.

Starting at: $4,995 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Statue of Leonardo da Vinci, Florence  Leonardo drawings  Leonardo's <i>The Last Supper</i>, Milan  The Palazzo Vecchio at dusk, Florence  The iconic Duomo in Florence  Visitors outside the renowned Uffizi Gallery. Credit: John Kellerman/Alamy  Some of the many treasures in the Uffizi Gallery. Credit: Art Kowalsky/Alamy  Leonardo's birthplace, Anchiano  Milan's renowned cathedral  The cathedral in Pavia  Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci

Celebrating 500 Years

8 days from $4,995

Explore the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci in Florence and Milan, immerse yourself in creations by his contemporaries, and come to understand the role of collaboration and shared ideas among the great thinkers of his day.

or Call 855-330-1542

Accommodations

* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

Hotel Brunelleschi

Florence, Italy

The Hotel Brunelleschi is a first-class hotel situated in the heart of Renaissance Florence within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and historic sites. Housed in a reconstructed 6th-century Byzantine tower and medieval church, the hotel offers character and modern, comfortable amenities. 

Number of nights: 3

Hotel Milano Scala

Milan, Italy

Located in the Brera district in Milan’s city center, and converted from an 1800 Milanese Palazzo, the Hotel Milano Scala opened in 2010. This boutique hotel aims to combine modern luxury with sensitivity to the environment. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, complimentary wi-fi, a minibar, and pillow menu. 

Number of nights: 3

Activity Level

Level 2: Moderate

Expectations: Long touring days with many full-day excursions. Standing and walking for long periods of time during city tours and museum visits. Walking over sometimes difficult terrain (e.g. cobblestones, stairs without handrails, the absence of elevators); some longer walks to get to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Travelers will take the train from Florence to Milan.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with long days of touring (both walking tours and coach time). 

Reading List
Leonardo and the Last Supper
By: Ross King
In 1495, Leonardo da Vinci began what would become one of history's most influential works of art-The Last Supper. After a decade at the court of Lodovico Sforza, the duke of Milan, Leonardo was at a low point: at forty-three, he had failed, despite a number of prestigious commissions, to complete anything that truly fulfilled his astonishing promise. His latest failure was a giant bronze horse to honor Sforza's father, made with material expropriated by the military. The commission to paint The Last Supper was a small compensation, and his odds of completing it weren't promising: he hadn't worked on such a large painting and had no experience in the standard mural medium of fresco. Amid war and the political and religious turmoil around him, and beset by his own insecurities and frustrations, Leonardo created the masterpiece that would forever define him. Ross King unveils dozens of stories that are embedded in the painting, and overturns many of the myths surrounding it. Bringing to life a fascinating period in European history, he presents an original portrait of one of history's greatest geniuses through the lens of his most famous work.
Leonardo da Vinci
By: Walter Isaacson
The #1 New York Times bestseller “A powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life...a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it.” —The New Yorker “Vigorous, insightful.” —The Washington Post “A masterpiece.” —San Francisco Chronicle “Luminous.” —The Daily Beast He was history’s most creative genius. What secrets can he teach us? The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography.Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy. He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and technology. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius. His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips, and then painted history’s most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. Isaacson also describes how Leonardo’s lifelong enthusiasm for staging theatrical productions informed his paintings and inventions. Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.
Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings
By: Frank Zollner
Stroke of Genius The complete painted oeuvre of Leonardo da Vinci The paintings of a renaissance master Inventor, painter, sculptor, scientist, architect, and engineer Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was nothing short of a quintessential Renaissance genius. No other artist of his generation has left behind such an extensive, authentic, and innovative oeuvre―yet Leonardo remains the most enigmatic of them all. From the beguiling Last Supper to the showstopping Mona Lisa, discover the complete painted oeuvre of one of history’s most insatiable creative masters. This collection draws from our extensive best-selling XXL edition, one of the most complete explorations of Leonardo to date, to trace his life and work across 10 chapters. All known paintings are featured, gathering some of the finest treasures of the Louvre, Prado, and National Gallery, as well as works lost to time, but no less startling in their precision and poise. This definitive volume is complete with crisp details, accessible essays situating Leonardo’s approach within its socio-cultural context and pictorial traditions of the time, the latest scientific insights, as well as an updated foreword that illuminates one of the most sensational art historical discoveries of our time: the record-breaking Salvator Mundi.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Milan & the Lakes
By: DK Travel
Explore the exciting history, culture, architecture, and fashion of Milan. Discover museums, foods, shops, and more.Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Milan & the Lakes.   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city maps include street finder indexes for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations. With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Milan & the Lakes truly shows you this country as no one else can.Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.
Streetwise Milan Map - Laminated City Center Street Map of Milan, Italy (Michelin Streetwise Maps)
By: Michelin
REVISED 2018Streetwise Milan Map is a laminated city center map of Milan, Italy. The accordion-fold pocket size travel map has an integrated metro map including lines & stations.Coverage includes:Main Milan Map 1:16,000Milan City Center Map 1:12,000Milan Area Map / Milan Metro MapDimensions: 4" x 8.5" folded, 8.5" x 36" unfoldedMilan is the design center of Europe, famous for the fashion houses that are based here, the sophisticated and yet simple cuisine that celebrates the finest ingredients and the cultural treasure trove you may find in the museums and churches. When you think of sleek stylish design, you are most likely thinking of something that originated in Milan, Italy. There is an atmosphere for all to savor. The Milanese love excitement, variation, work and their state of mind probably contributes to their success in fashion, food, and culture. Milan is heaven on earth for serious shoppers. The Brera district immediately north of the Duomo is where you'll find the famed golden triangle. Mention via della Spiga or via Montenapoleone to any fashionista and watch them swoon. You can find the best of everything connected with style and design in this compact, highly charged consumer paradise. The STREETWISE® map of Milan, complete with street, site and hotel index, enables you to explore all the areas that make Milan an elegant and glamorous city. We include a very detailed map of Milan City Center which encourages you to wander, explore and discover on foot all the city's cultural sites, like the breathtaking Duomo, one of the world's largest cathedrals and La Scala, filled with drama both on and off the stage. Milan's art galleries, many housed in former Palaces and churches, are home to a host of significant works including da Vinici's Last Supper. restaurants and hotels, buy the red MICHELIN Guide Main Cities of Europe. To plan your trip to and from Milan, use Michelin Italy Map No. 735.
Streetwise Florence Map - Laminated City Center Street Map of Florence, Italy (Michelin Streetwise Maps)
By: Michelin
REVISED NOV 2017Streetwise Florence Map is a laminated city center map of Florence, Italy. The accordion-fold pocket size travel map includes train tracks & stations.Coverage includes:Main Florence, Italy Map 1:10,000Florence Area Map 1:150,000Central Florence Map 1:5,700Dimensions: 4" x 8.5" folded, 8.5" x 27" unfoldedFlorence is a city that should be discovered on foot. In order to cut down on the city center congestion, major sites are closed to car traffic (Santa Maria Novella and Duomo). Many of the major exhibits are in the outlying areas like Bagno a Ripoli, Fiescole, Figline and Scandicci. This has allowed visitors to discover less explored areas. Be sure to enjoy the Renaissance era through the beauty of the cathedrals, churches, museums, paintings, sculptures and frescoes of Florence. Not to be missed during your visit: Piazza del Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, Museo del Bargello, Chiesa di San Loreno and the Medici tombs, Galleria Palantina in the Palazzo Pitti, Museo di San Marco, and Frescoes by Ghirlandaio in Chiesa di Santa Maria Novella. STREETWISE® Florence Italy Map, complete with street, site and hotel index, enables you to explore each hidden corner of this city and to discover its historic importance and artistic richness on your own. The Regional map of Florence will guide you on your discovery to the hillside towns surrounding Florence, giving you greater freedom to discover the glory of Tuscany, Italy. The pocket size map of Florence is laminated for durability and accordion folding for effortless use. For more travel detail and to help make the most of your trip to Florence search for the Michelin Green Guide Tuscany or Green Guide to Italy. For a selection of the best hotels and restaurants in Florence, check out the MICHELIN Guide Main Cities of Europe. For driving outside the city center, pick up the Michelin Central Italy Map No. 563.
La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
By: Beppe Severgnini
Join the bestselling author of Ciao, America! on a lively tour of modern Italy that takes you behind the seductive face it puts on for visitors—la bella figura—and highlights its maddening, paradoxical true self You won’t need luggage for this hypothetical and hilarious trip into the hearts and minds of Beppe Severgnini’s fellow Italians. In fact, Beppe would prefer if you left behind the baggage his crafty and elegant countrymen have smuggled into your subconscious. To get to his Italia, you’ll need to forget about your idealized notions of Italy. Although La Bella Figura will take you to legendary cities and scenic regions, your real destinations are the places where Italians are at their best, worst, and most authentic: The highway: in America, a red light has only one possible interpretation—Stop! An Italian red light doesn’t warn or order you as much as provide an invitation for reflection. The airport: where Italians prove that one of their virtues (an appreciation for beauty) is really a vice. Who cares if the beautiful girls hawking cell phones in airport kiosks stick you with an outdated model? That’s the price of gazing upon perfection.The small town: which demonstrates the Italian genius for pleasant living: “a congenial barber . . . a well-stocked newsstand . . . professionally made coffee and a proper pizza; bell towers we can recognize in the distance, and people with a kind word and a smile for everyone.”The chaos of the roads, the anarchy of the office, the theatrical spirit of the hypermarkets, and garrulous train journeys; the sensory reassurance of a church and the importance of the beach; the solitude of the soccer stadium and the crowded Italian bedroom; the vertical fixations of the apartment building and the horizontal democracy of the eat-in kitchen. As you venture to these and many other locations rooted in the Italian psyche, you realize that Beppe has become your Dante and shown you a country that “has too much style to be hell” but is “too disorderly to be heaven.” Ten days, thirty places. From north to south. From food to politics. From saintliness to sexuality. This ironic, methodical, and sentimental examination will help you understand why Italy—as Beppe says—“can have you fuming and then purring in the space of a hundred meters or ten minutes.”
Italy - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
By: Barry Tomalin
Italy delights and stimulates with its magnificent cities and monuments, its stunningly beautiful landscapes, the glory of its art and architecture, the richness and variety of its food, the elegance of its design and fashion, and the vitality and charm of its people. Italian style and culture have been exported all over the world. What is it like at home? Almost ten years after the 2008 banking crisis, Italy struggles to maintain its standard of living, the stability of the currency, and its ability to provide jobs for its school leavers and university graduates, many of whom now leave to work elsewhere in Europe. In addition, the influx of refugees from southeast Europe and across the Mediterranean is putting pressure on both its security and its economy. How are traditional Italian society and politics changing to deal with these challenges, with its most famous political personality of the last ten years, the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, still apparently waiting in the wings? The Italians are the most European-minded of nations, having emerged from a long history of regional fragmentation. Culture Smart! Italy introduces you to their history and culture and offers an insider’s guide to their daily lives, passions, and preoccupations. This is your chance to get to know them better.
Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook & Dictionary
By: Lonely Planet, Pietro Iagnocco, Anna Beltrami, Karina Coates, Susie Walker, Mirna Cicioni
Lonely Planet: The world's #1 phrasebook publisher*Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful Italian phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Order an espresso like a local, ask shop keepers about the latest fashions and bargain for fresh produce at the market; all with your trusted travel companion. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now!Get More From Your Trip with Easy-to-Find Phrases for Every Travel Situation! Feel at ease with essential tips on culture, manners, idioms and multiple meanings Order with confidence, explain food allergies, and try new foods with the menu decoder Save time and hassles with vital phrases at your fingertips Never get stuck for words with the 3500-word two-way, quick-reference dictionary Be prepared for both common and emergency travel situations with practical phrases and terminology Meet friends with conversation starter phrases Get your message across with easy-to-use pronunciation guides Inside Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook & Dictionary: Full-colour throughout User-friendly layout organised by travel scenario categories Survival phrases inside front cover for at-a-glance on-the-fly cues Convenient features 5 Phrases to Learn Before You Go 10 Ways to Start a Sentence 10 Phrases to Sound like a Local Listen For - phrases you may hear Look For - phrases you may see on signs Shortcuts - easy-to-remember alternatives to the full phrases Q &A - suggested answers to questions asked Covers Basics - time, dates, numbers, amounts, pronunciation, reading tips, grammar rules Practical - travel with kids, disabled travellers, sightseeing, business, banking, post office, internet, phones, repairs, bargaining, accommodation, directions, border crossing, transport Social - meeting people, interests, feelings, opinions, going out, romance, culture, activities, weather Safe Travel - emergencies, police, doctor, chemist, dentist, symptoms, conditions Food - ordering, at the market, at the bar, dishes, ingredients The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook & Dictionary, a pocket-sized comprehensive language guide, provides on-the-go language assistance; great for language students and travellers looking to interact with locals and immerse themselves in local culture.About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves. The world awaits! *#1 phrasebook publisher. Source: Nielsen Bookscan UK, US & AUS
The Italian Renaissance
By: J.H. Plumb
Spanning an age that witnessed great achievements in the arts and sciences, this definitive overview of the Italian Renaissance will both captivate ordinary readers and challenge specialists. Dr. Plumb’s impressive and provocative narrative is accompanied by contributions from leading historians, including Morris Bishop, J. Bronowski, Maria Bellonci, and many more, who have further illuminated the lives of some of the era’s most unforgettable personalities, from Petrarch to Pope Pius II, Michelangelo to Isabella d'Este, Machiavelli to Leonardo. A highly readable and engaging volume, THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE is a perfect introduction to the movement that shaped the Western world.
The Italians
By: John Hooper
Washington Post bestsellerLos Angeles Times bestsellerA vivid and surprising portrait of the Italian people from an admired foreign correspondent How did a nation that spawned the Renaissance also produce the Mafia? And why does Italian have twelve words for coat hanger but none for hangover?   John Hooper’s entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Fifteen years as a foreign correspondent based in Rome have sharpened Hooper’s observations, and he looks at the facts that lie behind the stereotypes, shedding new light on everything from the Italians’ bewildering politics to their love of life and beauty. Hooper persuasively demonstrates the impact of geography, history, and tradition on many aspects of Italian life, including football and Freemasonry, sex, food, and opera. Brimming with the kind of fascinating—and often hilarious—insights unavailable in guidebooks, The Italians will surprise even the most die-hard Italophile.From the Hardcover edition.
Da Vinci's Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image
By: Toby Lester
In Da Vinci's Ghost, critically acclaimed historian Toby Lester tells the story of the world’s most iconic image, the Vitruvian Man, and sheds surprising new light on the artistry and scholarship of Leonardo da Vinci, one of history’s most fascinating figures.Deftly weaving together art, architecture, history, theology, and much else, Da Vinci's Ghost is a first-rate intellectual enchantment.”—Charles Mann, author of 1493 Da Vinci didn’t summon Vitruvian Man out of thin air. He was inspired by the idea originally formulated by the Roman architect Vitruvius, who suggested that the human body could be made to fit inside a circle, long associated with the divine, and a square, related to the earthly and secular. To place a man inside those shapes was to imply that the human body could indeed be a blueprint for the workings of the universe. Da Vinci elevated Vitruvius’ idea to exhilarating heights when he set out to do something unprecedented, if the human body truly reflected the cosmos, he reasoned, then studying its anatomy more thoroughly than had ever been attempted before—peering deep into body and soul—might grant him an almost godlike perspective on the makeup of the world. Written with the same narrative flair and intellectual sweep as Lester’s award-winning first book, the “almost unbearably thrilling” (Simon Winchester) Fourth Part of the World, and beautifully illustrated with Da Vinci's drawings, Da Vinci’s Ghost follows Da Vinci on his journey to understanding the secrets of the Vitruvian man. It captures a pivotal time in Western history when the Middle Ages were giving way to the Renaissance, when art, science, and philosophy were rapidly converging, and when it seemed possible that a single human being might embody—and even understand—the nature of the universe.
Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces
By: Miles J. Unger
This is the life of one of the most revolutionary artists in history, told through the story of six of his greatest masterpieces: “The one indispensable guide for encountering Michelangelo on his home turf” (The Dallas Morning News).Michelangelo stands alone as a master of painting, sculpture, and architecture, a man who reinvented the practice of art itself. Throughout his long career he clashed with patrons by insisting that he had no master but his own demanding muse. Michelangelo was ambitious, egotistical, and difficult, but through the towering force of genius and through sheer pugnaciousness, he transformed the way we think about art. Miles Unger narrates the life of this tormented genius through six of his greatest masterpieces. Each work expanded the expressive range of the medium, from the Pietà carved by a brash young man of twenty-four, to the apocalyptic Last Judgment, the work of an old man weighed down by the unimaginable suffering he had witnessed. In the gargantuan David he depicts Man in the glory of his youth, while in the tombs he carved for his Medici overlords he offers perhaps history’s most sustained meditation on death and the afterlife of the soul. In the vast expanse of the Sistine Chapel ceiling he tells the epic story of Creation. During the final decades of his life, his hands too unsteady to wield the brush and chisel, he exercised his mind by raising the soaring vaults and dome of St. Peter’s in a final tribute to his God. “A deeply human tribute to one of the most accomplished and fascinating figures inthe history of Western culture” (The Boston Globe), Michelangelo brings to life the irascible, egotistical, and undeniably brilliant man whose artistry continues to amaze and inspire us after five hundred years.
The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (Modern Library Classics)
By: Giorgio Vasari
A painter and architect in his own right, Giorgio Vasari (1511-74) achieved immortality for this book on the lives of his fellow Renaissance artists, first published in Florence in 1550. Although he based his work on a long tradition of biographical writing, Vasari infused these literary portraits with a decidedly modern form of critical judgment. The result is a work that remains to this day the cornerstone of art historical scholarship. Spanning the period from the thirteenth century to Vasari’s own time, the Lives opens a window on the greatest personalities of the period, including Giotto, Brunelleschi, Mantegna, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian. This Modern Library edition, abridged from the original text with notes drawn from earlier commentaries, as well as current research, reminds us why The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects is indispensable to any student interested in Renaissance art.
Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man and his Times
By: William E. Wallace
Michelangelo is universally recognized to be one of the greatest artists of all time. In this vividly written biography, William E. Wallace offers a substantially new view of the artist. Not only a supremely gifted sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, Michelangelo was also an aristocrat who firmly believed in the ancient and noble origins of his family. The belief in his patrician status fueled his lifelong ambition to improve his family's financial situation and to raise the social standing of artists. Michelangelo's ambitions are evident in his writing, dress, and comportment, as well as in his ability to befriend, influence, and occasionally say "no" to popes, kings, and princes. Written from the words of Michelangelo and his contemporaries, this biography not only tells his own stories but also brings to life the culture and society of Renaissance Florence and Rome. Not since Irving Stone's novel The Agony and the Ecstasy has there been such a compelling and human portrayal of this remarkable yet credible human individual. Subscribe to William Wallace's podcast on individual works of the master! Click here! Episodes every week, right from this bookmark or your feed reader.
Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
By: Ross King
On August 19, 1418, a competition concerning Florence's magnificent new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore--already under construction for more than a century--was announced: "Whoever desires to make any model or design for the vaulting of the main Dome....shall do so before the end of the month of September." The proposed dome was regarded far and wide as all but impossible to build: not only would it be enormous, but its original and sacrosanct design shunned the flying buttresses that supported cathedrals all over Europe. The dome would literally need to be erected over thin air.Of the many plans submitted, one stood out--a daring and unorthodox solution to vaulting what is still the largest dome (143 feet in diameter) in the world. It was offered not by a master mason or carpenter, but by a goldsmith and clockmaker named Filippo Brunelleschi, then forty-one, who would dedicate the next twenty-eight years to solving the puzzles of the dome's construction. In the process, he did nothing less than reinvent the field of architecture.Brunelleschi's Dome is the story of how a Renaissance genius bent men, materials, and the very forces of nature to build an architectural wonder we continue to marvel at today. Denounced at first as a madman, Brunelleschi was celebrated at the end as a genius. He engineered the perfect placement of brick and stone, built ingenious hoists and cranes (among some of the most renowned machines of the Renaissance) to carry an estimated 70 million pounds hundreds of feet into the air, and designed the workers' platforms and routines so carefully that only one man died during the decades of construction--all the while defying those who said the dome would surely collapse and his own personal obstacles that at times threatened to overwhelm him. This drama was played out amid plagues, wars, political feuds, and the intellectual ferments of Renaissance Florence-- events Ross King weaves into the story to great effect, from Brunelleschi's bitter, ongoing rivalry with the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti to the near catpure of Florence by the Duke of Milan. King also offers a wealth of fascinating detail that opens windows onto fifteenth-century life: the celebrated traditions of the brickmaker's art, the daily routine of the artisans laboring hundreds of feet above the ground as the dome grew ever higher, the problems of transportation, the power of the guilds.Even today, in an age of soaring skyscrapers, the cathedral dome of Santa Maria del Fiore retains a rare power to astonish. Ross King brings its creation to life in a fifteenth-century chronicle with twenty-first-century resonance.
Blue Guide Concise Italy (Blue Guides)
By: Blue Guides
The first Blue Guide to cover the entire country of Italy in one volume. A 400-page distillation featuring the erudition and detailed knowledge that have made Blue Guides the choice of discerning travelers everywhere, Blue Guide Concise Italy is an ideal companion for the first-time visitor or for any visitor interested in the country’s art, history, and culture. Lavishly illustrated, with a focus on covering key sites in sufficient depth, it directs readers to wonderful sights, museums, churches, art, dining, and accommodations in classic Blue Guide style.maps; photographs; architectural details; floor plans
The City of Florence: Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings
By: R.W.B. Lewis
A New York Times Notable BookIn this deeply personal and learned labor of love, R.W.B. Lewis provides a new look at the glories of Florence, the smallish Tuscan city which has been a prime source for modern Western culture and which has also been his second home for fifty years. With a scholar's eye and a lover's passion, he invites us to share his vision of a city and the way of life it has engendered and inspired.
April Blood: Florence and the Plot against the Medici
By: Lauro Martines
One of the world's leading historians of Renaissance Italy brings to life here the vibrant--and violent--society of fifteenth-century Florence. His disturbing narrative opens up an entire culture, revealing the dark side of Renaissance man and politician Lorenzo de' Medici.On a Sunday in April 1478, assassins attacked Lorenzo and his brother as they attended Mass in the cathedral of Florence. Lorenzo scrambled to safety as Giuliano bled to death on the cathedral floor. April Blood moves outward in time and space from that murderous event, unfolding a story of tangled passions, ambition, treachery, and revenge. The conspiracy was led by one of the city's most noble clans, the Pazzi, financiers who feared and resented the Medici's swaggering new role as political bosses--but the web of intrigue spread through all of Italy. Bankers, mercenaries, the Duke of Urbino, the King of Naples, and Pope Sixtus IV entered secretly into the plot. Florence was plunged into a peninsular war, and Lorenzo was soon fighting for his own and his family's survival. The failed assassination doomed the Pazzi. Medici revenge was swift and brutal--plotters were hanged or beheaded, innocents were hacked to pieces, and bodies were put out to dangle from the windows of the government palace. All remaining members of the larger Pazzi clan were forced to change their surname, and every public sign or symbol of the family was expunged or destroyed. April Blood offers us a fresh portrait of Renaissance Florence, where dazzling artistic achievements went side by side with violence, craft, and bare-knuckle politics. At the center of the canvas is the figure of Lorenzo the Magnificent--poet, statesman, connoisseur, patron of the arts, and ruthless "boss of bosses." This extraordinarily vivid account of a turning point in the Italian Renaissance is bound to become a lasting work of history.
Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence (Enterprise)
By: Tim Parks
“A swift and brilliant synthesis of finance, politics, and history.”―Ben Sisario, New York Times Book Review Before they achieved renown as patrons of the arts and de facto rulers of Florence, the Medici family earned their fortune in banking. But even at the height of the Renaissance, charging interest of any kind meant running afoul of the Catholic Church’s ban on usury. Tim Parks reveals how the legendary Medicis―Cosimo and Lorenzo “the Magnificent” in particular―used the diplomatic, military, and even metaphysical tools at hand, along with a healthy dose of intrigue and wit, to further their fortunes as well as their family’s standing.
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
By: Ross King
In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel. With little experience as a painter (though famed for his sculpture David), Michelangelo was reluctant to begin the massive project. Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling recounts the four extraordinary years Michelangelo spent laboring over the vast ceiling while the power politics and personal rivalries that abounded in Rome swirled around him. Battling against ill health, financial difficulties, domestic problems, the pope's impatience, and a bitter rivalry with the brilliant young painter Raphael, Michelangelo created scenes so beautiful that they are considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. A panorama of illustrious figures converged around the creation of this great work-from the great Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus to the young Martin Luther-and Ross King skillfully weaves them through his compelling historical narrative, offering uncommon insight into the intersection of art and history.
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Terms and conditions

Our Mission

Smithsonian Journeys engages travelers in the wide-ranging mission of the Smithsonian. Like the Institution, our tours enrich our guests’ lives and satisfy their curiosity about the world around them. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 19 museums, National Zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.

What Is Included in the Tour Cost

  • Expertise of a Smithsonian Journeys Expert and tour management throughout the tour.
  • All accommodations (based on double occupancy).
  • Meals as indicated on the tour page, including special welcome and farewell dinners (B-breakfast; L-lunch; R-reception; D-dinner).
  • All sightseeing and visits as noted in each itinerary.
  • Pre-tour information, including a reading list.
  • Baggage handling for one bag plus one carry-on bag per person.
  • Service charges and gratuities.
  • All on-tour transportation, unless otherwise noted.
  • On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only).

What Is Not Included in the Tour Cost

  • Round-trip international airfare and air and departure taxes.
  • Transfers to and from airports for individuals not arriving or departing on scheduled program dates.
  • Passport fees, visas, and visa photos as required.
  • Personal items such as wines, liquors, a-la-carte orders, meals other than specified.
  • Room service and valet/laundry service.
  • Expenses incurred by our tour operators in making individual travel arrangements in conjunction with the tour.
  • Other items not specifically mentioned as included.  
  • Optional Travelers’ Protection Plan: Unexpected events before or during a trip may leave you with canceled plans, lost luggage, or unforeseen medical expenses. This optional plan offers an affordable package of benefits and services that can provide coverage and assistance for the unexpected. Visit TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys to learn more.

Registration

Space is reserved in the order of receipt of phone or web reservations.

To submit a request for a reservation, please order using our secure online process, or call 855-330-1542 to speak with a Cultural Travel Specialist, Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time).

Submitting an online request does not guarantee space on a tour. You will be notified of your status when your request has been received and processed. Please note: No new registrations can be accepted within 30 days of most tours. Some tours are more restrictive; please see individual tour pages for these exceptions.

To complete your request, the following is necessary:

Required Information
For all international departures, passport information including the following, in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program as well as by our international travel partners: your full name as it appears on your passport, date of birth, and gender (for further information, please visit www.tsa.gov). In the event, an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, or if you use a different passport than originally cited, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.

Payments
Deposit of $500 per person, per tour, payable by check to the tour operator or by major credit card, is required to reserve a space on a tour program. Deposits are applied to payment of the program price.

Balance due upon invoicing at least 95 days prior to the program. If payment is not received by the final payment due date, your place cannot be guaranteed on the tour.

Late Registration
Any registration received within 95 days of departure is considered a “late registration” and must be subject to special confirmation. Payment in full must be made immediately by credit card or by check and sent by overnight mail to the tour operator before confirmation is possible.

Once confirmed, cancellation penalties apply as set forth below. If confirmation is not possible, all payments made will be refunded in full.

Late registration confirmation procedures apply to any participant who is transferred from the wait list to the program within the designated late registration period for that program.

For additional information, please call 855-330-1542 to speak with a Cultural Travel Specialist, Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time). or visit www.SmithsonianJourneys.org/Contact.

A Note About Costs

Tour costs are based upon current airfares, tariffs, currency values, and on the basis of a minimum number of participants. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change. Should actual enrollments fall significantly below minimum numbers, a surcharge may be added. Due to fluctuations in oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee (e.g. internal flights, cruises, etc.). Details and costs will be advised prior to departure. 

Wait List

If the program(s) of your choice are fully subscribed, you will be placed on a wait list. If you choose to withdraw from the wait list, please notify us.

Please note that we are unable to keep you apprised of your status on the wait list. We will call you only if a space becomes available, but you are welcome to call us at your convenience to inquire about your status at 855-330-1542.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Per person cancellation fees are based on date of notice to Smithsonian Journeys.

  • Cancellations within 7 days of booking (if not within final payment date): full refund.
  • Cancellations after 7 days of booking: entire deposit retained.
  • Final payment due: 95 days prior to departure.
  • Cancellations made less than 95 days prior to departure: no refund.
  • Cancellation by the Smithsonian: full refund.
  • No refund for unused portions of the tour, including but not limited to, missed meals, hotel nights, and sightseeing.

Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Air Service

For tour packages that include round-trip international airfare, rates are based on economy class from designated departure cities as shown. Airfares from other cities are available upon request. Airline upgrades at additional cost may be available on request for the international portion of your flight.

Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservations, you do not purchase nonrefundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes.

Neither Smithsonian Journeys nor the tour operator has any liability for any loss resulting from tour cancellations or changes in international gateways, travel dates, or airline schedule changes. If an air schedule requires an overnight stay in a gateway city, the cost of the overnight will be at your expense. For tour packages that include round-trip international airfare, we will be happy to help with arrangements. Please note that seat assignment on your international flight is usually done at airport check-in. The tour operator is unable to guarantee any seat assignments.

When planning our tours that include international round-trip airfare, the tour operator contracts with those airlines that they feel provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates that enable us to offer you the best possible travel value. Please note that frequent flyer mileage credits are issued at the discretion of the airline(s) and may not be available for the flights on your tour. If you prefer to make your own airline reservations, “land only” pricing is available on most of our tours.

Individual Arrivals and Group Transfers
A designated group flight is not included on most tours. However, transportation from the arrival airport to the ship/hotel is included in your tour cost if you arrive in time to meet the scheduled group transfer. Your first tour bulletin will thoroughly explain the details of the options available for your individual flights.

Air Tickets Purchased Independently of the Tour
We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since international departure times and flights can change. Tours also can be canceled due to low enrollments. Neither Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.

Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan, through Travel Guard, with the price of your tour. On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only). It also includes up to $25,000 medical and up to $500 dental expense coverage, and 24-hour worldwide travel and medical assistance. Please click here to view complete coverage details.

Please visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1-800-208-6142 to learn about additional (optional) coverage.

Travel Documents

For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of your tour, and with at least six blank visa pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all tours in this catalog. If your tour requires a visa or other entry documents, we will send you the appropriate information after you make a reservation. You are responsible for obtaining these documents. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact your embassy or consulate to ensure you obtain the proper documentation.

Physical and Medical Considerations

Please note that these tours require that participants be in good physical condition. You must be capable, without assistance, of walking a minimum of two miles over uneven terrain and of climbing stairs that may not have handrails. Participants should have sufficient stamina to keep pace with an active group of travelers on long days of touring. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a tour, please call us at 855-330-1542. Some tours have additional notes regarding physical and medical considerations, which are noted on the Tour Information link

Itinerary or Program Modifications

Smithsonian strives to improve tour itineraries and their features. If improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute hotels. Every effort will be made to carry out the program as planned but alterations may still occur after the final itinerary is sent. Please note that weather conditions may force changes to the advertised sailing schedule on cruise programs. The ship’s captain has the authority to change the ship’s schedule.

Accommodations

Smithsonian chooses hotels based on a combination of their location, service, atmosphere, and price. On adventure tours and programs in out-of-the-way places, best-available hotels are used. In most cases, hotels have elevators and meeting rooms for Smithsonian lectures. Program prices are based on two persons sharing a room with a bath.

Singles and Roommates
Hotel rooms are always reserved for single travelers; however, the number of single rooms available on a tour may be limited. Therefore we recommend that you register early. Please note that a single supplement will apply for a single room. If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room, we will do our best to find someone of the same gender and smoking preference to share with you. If you are matched with a non-smoking roommate, it is mutually agreed that you cannot smoke in your hotel room. When a roommate cannot be found, the single supplement will be charged. 

Children

All tours, except family programs, are designed for adults. Some may be suitable for older children. Regardless of age, children must pay full price unless otherwise noted, and a parent or guardian must accompany those under 18.

Special Travel Arrangements
Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel. Please note that the tour operator can assist you in making post-tour arrangements only. We regret that we are unable to help with pre-tour arrangements.

Photography
Participants on tour may be photographed for the educational and promotional purposes of the Smithsonian Institution. Photographs may be printed in publications and posted on websites to promote Smithsonian Journeys. Travelers who prefer that their image not be used must advise the tour manager at the beginning of the tour.

Smoking Policy
For the comfort of all participants, we ask that there be no smoking during all group activities, including excursions and meals. On certain cruises, there is no smoking aboard the ship. Your pre-tour bulletins will provide further information.

Preparing for Your Journey

Prior to departure, you will receive Tour Bulletins containing both general and tour specific information to help you prepare for your travel experience. These bulletins will include:

  • Passport and visa instructions
  • Flight information
  • Weather, clothing, and packing suggestions
  • A suggested reading list
  • General information about the countries you will visit, e.g. the food, customs, medical precautions, and currency.
  • Information about your Smithsonian Journeys Expert and tour staff
  • Baggage tag(s) and name badge(s)
  • Final itinerary
  • Participant list  

RESPONSIBILITY STATEMENT AND LIABILITY DISCLAIMER

Read Carefully: Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer
Smithsonian Journeys are managed by professional tour operators hired as independent contractors. The use of tour operators allows the Smithsonian to offer its members a wide array of educational travel opportunities. The tour operator acts only as an agent for the respective suppliers by making arrangements for transportation, accommodations, and other services. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of tour participants.

The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour announced, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a tour, or to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time, when such action is determined by tour staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or the individual participant, subject only to the requirement that the recoverable portion of the total amount paid that corresponds to the cost of unused services and accommodations be refunded, if any. If your tour does not include airfare, your Tour Bulletins will provide information about when participants are recommended to purchase airline tickets. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator accept no liability for the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets to/from the tour departure city if a tour is canceled or otherwise modified subsequent to the participant’s purchase of those tickets. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the sole responsibility of the participant.

Dates, schedules, program details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication of the brochure or catalog, are subject to change and revision.

AS A CONDITION OF ACCEPTANCE OF ANY APPLICATION, EACH APPLICANT MUST AGREE TO THE STATEMENT SET FORTH BELOW:

The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this tour, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the tour brochure(s), and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the tour and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the tour brochure(s). The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel tour, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff or others. In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the tour, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this tour, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour.

By registering for a Smithsonian Journey, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.