Day 15, Mon 30 September

From Lucca we will drive to Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance, home of the Medici dynasty and the last stage of our tour.
Our time here begins with an in depth look at the exterior of the cathedral, crowned with Brunelleschi’s masterpiece the great dome. We will visit one of the oldest buildings in Florence, the octagonal Baptistery of San Giovanni, and the excellent Museo dell’Opera del Duomo museum. This houses original sculptures from the baptistery, including Ghiberti’s two sets of bronze doors and the silver-gilt altar of St John the Baptist. From the cathedral, the museum has original designs for the façade of the cathedral, Luca della Robbia and Donatello’s ‘cantorie’ or singing galleries, and from the campanile (bell tower), Donatello’s marble prophets and the original 13th century bas reliefs.
From there we will head to another of Brunelleschi's great works, the Ospedale degli Innocenti orphanage. Much more than an architectural milestone, this Renaissance institution provided care for children continuously for more than five centuries.
We will also visit the monumental and some say miraculous Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation, Santissima Annunziata, with its Mannerist frescoes in the cloisters and Renaissance and Mannerist altarpieces.
After checking in to our hotel, we will head out together for a feast of Florentine food at one of Florence’s many fine eateries.

Total drive time today: 1 hour 30.

Accommodation: Hotel Balestri (4-star), Florence.

Address: 7 Piazza Mentana.

Meals included: breakfast and dinner.