Michelangelo's relationship with the Medicis (the family that ruled Florence from 1434 to 1737) gave Florence its dynamic art and architecture.
After meeting your driver on the pier, you will drive through the countryside for your unforgettable Livorno excursion, approximately two hours away. The first stop will be Piazzale Michelangelo, a wide terrace from where it is possible to admire one of the most superb views of the city nestled in the Arno valley, surrounded by gently sloping hills. In the center of the square stands the Monument to Michelangelo (1875) with a bronze reproduction of the four statues depicting Day, Night, Dawn and Dusk, dominated by the statue of David.
You will then continue into town, where your transportation will drive you as close to the center of town as possible on the narrow streets. Here, you will meet your professionally trained local guide and set off on a walking tour of the city center. Nearby is the Galleria dell'Accademia, which houses the masterpiece of Michelangelo: the Statue of David. Cathedral Works Committee (Opera Del Duomo) commissioned the statue in 1501. At the age of 26, Michelangelo was given a leftover block of marble that came from the mountains of Carrara that had previously been worked on by various other artists. During your visit to the Accademia, you will also see several of Michelangelo's works in progress.
Another must-see creation of Michelangelo's is the Medici Chapel. In 1520, the artist was commissioned to execute the chapel for two young Medici dukes. It contains two tombs, each with an image of the deceased and two allegorical (symbolic) figures: Day and Night on one tomb, and Dawn and Dusk on the other.
Although not designed by Michelangelo, the Florence Duomo is the highlight of the Florence skyline and a visit will be made to this masterpiece of Italian Gothic architecture. Arnolfo di Cambio (c. 1245-1302), one of the greatest architect-sculptors of his age, designed the present building and considerably enlarged the existing structure. This was finished around 1367 and was completely covered with colored marbles similar to the earlier Baptistery.
The Museo dell 'Opera del Duomo (Cathedral Museum) hosts one of the most famous sculptures of Michelangelo: the Pietà, carved by the artist in his old age and never completed. This is a sculpted group of figures, centered on the body of Christ brought down from the cross and his mother's grief. Michelangelo found fault with it, and he attacked it in an artistic tantrum. Jesus' leg is still missing, although a later sculptor repaired most of the damage and added a shiny Mary Magdalene in total contrast to the rough and unfinished faces of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Michelangelo completed the fourth figure, Nicodemus, mainly because the aging artist designed it as a self-portrait for his own tomb.
A stop will then be made for free time so you can purchase a light meal or a Florentine lunch in a local restaurant. In the afternoon, visit Piazza della Signoria, which has been the political heart of the city from the Middle Ages to the present day. The square, however, is not just the "civil" center of Florence; it is also a splendid open-air museum. 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), you 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 often been re-built. After the flooding of 1333, it was re-constructed with a double row of shops, passing from a defensive type of architecture to the actual public one. In 1565, the east-facing Vasariano Corridor above the shops was built and the back-shops were added in the 17th century, giving the bridge its actual structure.
During your Livorno excursion, visit 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. The Basilica of Santa Croce, one of the largest churches in the city, 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, or Temple of the Italian Glories. Here lie the tombs of Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile, Rossini, Marconi, and Michelangelo himself. There may be some free time for browsing the leather shops and small stores around the square before meeting your escort and driver for the approximately 1 hour 45 minute drive to Livorno.
Please note: The Medici Chapel is closed on Sunday. The national museums of Italy, including the Accademia, are closed on Monday. Guests booking this tour on a Sunday or Monday will tour alternative sites that have a connection to Michelangelo. Your guide will discuss this with you the day of the tour.