After meeting your private driver in Livorno, you will set off on the 90-minute drive to Florence. Upon arrival, you will meet your professionally trained guide and begin your walking tour of Florence. You will begin your Livorno excursion with a visit inside the Galleria dell'Accademia, which houses the masterpiece of Michelangelo: the Statue of David. The statue was commissioned in 1501. The 26-year-old Michelangelo was given a leftover block of marble that came from the mountains of Carrara. The piece was intended as a monumental work, a testimony to the city's republican pride. It was moved to the Accademia in 1873 (from outside the Palazzo Vecchio, where a replica now stands) to protect it from the ravages of time and weather.
The following stop on this Livorno excursion will be in the Piazza del Duomo. Here you will see the baptismal building and its beautifully crafted outer doors. You will then visit the Florence Duomo. The cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore and is typical of Italian Gothic architecture. Arnolfo di Cambio designed the present building. The Cupola remained unfinished, and in 1421 the polygonal base was erected. Two architects won the competition to design the dome, Lorenzo Ghiberti (1368-1445) and Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), but it was Brunelleschi who actually built it, using remarkable technical knowledge to achieve the uniquely beautiful results we see today. Completed in 1436, the Cupola is the most characteristic feature of the Florentine skyline, symbolizing a great cultural tradition and the city's civic awareness.
It will then be time to visit Piazza della Signoria, which has been the political heart of the city from the Middle Ages to the present day. The Piazza is named after the most important monument there, Palazzo della Signoria, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1298-99 for the seat of the Republican government, and which was later to host the Gonfalonier of Justice and the Priors of the Arts (it was in fact first called Palazzo dei Priori).
The square however is not just the "civic" center of Florence; it is also a splendid open-air museum. The square of the Uffizi stretches out on the south side, towards the Arno, with the eye-catching Loggia dei Lanzi, (1376-1382), whose late Gothic roof covers 15 statues, which also include Benvenuto Cellini's wonderful Perseus holding up the head of the Medusa.
The statues in the square deserve a chapter all to themselves. Apart from the great sculptures lined up in front of the facade of Palazzo Vecchio (among them the copy of David by Michelangelo), we can hardly avoid noticing the Fountain of Neptune by Ammannati and the equestrian statue of Cosimo I de Medici by Giambologna.
Close by the Piazza della Signoria, you will visit the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge, which crosses the Arno at its widest point. It dates back to Roman times and has been re-built on several occasions. After the flooding of 1333, it was reconstructed with a double row of shops, passing from a defensive type of architecture to the current public one. In 1565 the east-facing Vasariano Corridor above the shops was built and the back-shops were added in the seventeenth century, giving the bridge its modern-day structure.
Before free time, a stop will be made in the Square of Santa Croce (Holy Cross), one of Florence's largest squares, and traditionally one of the city's main arenas for ceremonies and festivities. You will visit the Basilica of Santa Croce, one of the largest churches in the city. It is attributed to the genius of Arnolfo di Cambio, who seems to have begun work in 1294. The presence of a great many funeral monuments and tombstones (276 can still be seen on the floor alone) has led to the Basilica being thought of as the city Pantheon, the burial place of Florence's most illustrious citizens. Here lie the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Vittorio Alfieri, and Gioacchino Rossini.
Back outside in the square, your guide will suggest dining venues from a light snack to a typical Florentine restaurant. This will also be free time for shopping or exploring on your own. At the appointed time, you will meet your driver for the trip back to Livorno.
Please note: The national museums of Italy are closed on Mondays. If you book this Livorno port tour on a Monday, your guide will discuss alternatives with you that day.
This was a really memorable excursion. The driver was excellent and gave us some history and facts on the way to Florence. We met the guide in Florence and Liz was terrific. She really knew her stuff and added a personal touch throughout the day. She also recommended an excellent place for lunch. Her knowledge of Florence was unbelieveable and allowed us to go at our own pace. It was much more than just the statue of David. This is an expensive excursion but the quality was excellent.
Reviewer: Linda the Schmoozer Cruiser
Our tour guide Leticia was exceptional. Her enthusiasm, knowledge and love for her city was off the charts. Remarkable architecture, Michaelangelo's spectacular ""David"", delicious Italian lunch at a local trattatoria. Such an informative, enjoyable day. Can't wait to return.