The Medici family, rulers of Florence throughout the Renaissance, made some of the most incredible gardens in Italy. We will be visiting several of their gardens, including the Villa Medici one of their earliest properties, designed by Michelozzo, on the outskirts of Florence. In the 19th century this villa with its terraced garden was the childhood home of the writer, Iris Origo. Her mother, Lady Sybil Cutting, engaged the British architect Cecil Pinsent to work on the villa and the garden. We shall be investigating the work of Pinsent here and at other locations including Villa Le Balze and Villa Gamberaia.
A day trip will take us outside Florence to discover more Medici gardens including Villa di Castello, the countryside home of Cosimo I de’ Medici, with its wonderful pots of lemons and the newly restored grotto of animals. We will visit the Appennino Colossus (by Giambologna) at Pratolino and the Utens Lunettes of the Medici gardens, now held at Villa Petraia.
Our tour will also take us to some private gardens in Florence including visits with the owners at the incredible Gardini Torrrigiani and the gardens of Corsini al Prato. There will be an exclusive visit to the home of the Actons at Villa La Pietra, which is now owned by Georgetown University. No tour of Florence would be complete without a visit to the Boboli and the Bardini gardens.
We have a wonderful local tour guide, an expert in the Medici family history who will be accompanying us to the Medici Riccardi Palazzo. The palace itself was commissioned by Cosimo the Elder Medici c.1444 and is another design by Michelozzo. We are very pleased to have a guided visit to the Cappella dei Magi, with frescoes of 1459 by Benozzo Gozzoli.
Included in Tour Cost
Four nights in Florence at a four star hotel.
All guided tours by The Garden Historians (Deborah Trentham) and one other local expert guide, visits to approximately fifteen gardens, many of which are privately owned.
All breakfasts and two lunches (excluding alcohol). Aperitifs at two of the gardens.
A special talk and guided tour by a Medici historian.
Airport transfers (x2) on arrival at Florence airport and for the homeward return flight .
All coaches, buses & cabs to the gardens and their entrance fees.
NB - It is mandatory that you take out your own comprehensive travel insurance.
Not included in Tour cost
Other meals not mentioned above.
Any travel you undertake not mentioned above.
The full tour will cost between £1200.00 - £1500.00 depending on your room choice at the Hotel. Confirmed prices are now being finalised and this page will be updated soon.
Please note the final cost of your tour may be adjusted slightly by fluctuations in currency exchange rates between the date of your booking and 31st January 2020 when the full balance of your tour will be due.
27th April - 1st May 2020
A £250.00 deposit will be required to secure your place. Deposits will be taken from September 2019. Please register your interest using our online form and we will contact you for your deposit.
Monday 27th April
14.00 Arrive in Florence and transfer to Hotel Albani for check in.
16.00 15 minute walk visit to Palazzo Corsini al Prato where Princess Giorgiania Corsini will meet us for an aperitivo and take us on a tour of the private Palazzo designed by Renaissance architect Bernardo Buontalenti and the formal garden with its sculpture and citrus collection.
Evening A short walk to a charming restaurant near the hotel.
Tuesday 28th April
10.00 A visit to Frederick Stibbert’s Garden, on the hill of Montughi, a romantic English garden complete with Egyptian temple, small lake, fountains and rock caves. 11.30 A short walk to visit to La Pietra, a Renaissance villa, latterly belonging to the Acton family. Our group will have guided tour of the garden.
Return to central Florence and the opportunity to shop, have lunch or a nap!
16.30 A visit to the Medici Riccardi Palazzo to see the Benozzo Gozzoli frescoes in The Chapel of the Magi. We will be joined by our expert guide, a specialist historian of the Medici family.
Evening The choice of a meal together or some free time to enjoy Florence independently.
Wednesday 29th April
o9.30 To Fiesole for various visits.
10.00 We begin at The Villa Medici, a UNESCO world heritage site and very important villa, it was the first to take in the views of surrounding landscape. Designed by Michelozzo between 1458-1461, for Giovanni de’ Medici. Cecil Pinsent made additions and changes in the 20th Century.
11.00 A short walk to Villa Le Balze, the villa and garden by Cecil Pinsent (and Geoffrey Scott) for Charles Strong. A very steep site with a series of garden rooms and a grotto , which was the original entrance. Both of these gardens are small and are next to each other, so please don’t worry about the timing!
12.30 Lunch (included) at Ristorante La Reggia Degli Etruschi, a wonderful restaurant, hidden away up a steep slope. Weather permitting, we have reservations on the terrace with wonderful views. After lunch some free time to explore the market or a five minute walk to Fiesole’s Roman Amphitheatre.
16.00 Back to centre of Florence and on to the Giardino Torrigiani, for a private visit with owner Marchese Vieri Torrigiani Malaspina. At 17 acres it’s said to be the largest privately owned garden in any European city. We’ll see many botanic specimens and very interesting trees here. To finish our visit we will have an aperitivo with the Marchese before returning to the hotel.
Evening A free evening to enjoy Florence
Thursday 30th April
An all day trip by coach to Medici gardens.
10.00 Villa Medicea di Castello, a garden full of citrus, a secret garden and the first grotto of the Renaissance, now looking magnificent after a huge restoration project. The villa dates back to the 14th century, although the Medici Family bought it in 1477. Cosimo I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1519-1574), commissioned Niccolò Tribolo to create the garden.
11.30 Villa della Petraia, the wonderfully frescoed ground floor of the villa holds the equally fascinating Utens Lunettes, paintings of the Medici villas and gardens.
13.30 Lunch (included) at a family run agritourismo, where they serve wonderful home grown produce and home-made pasta and local wine.
15.30 Villa Demidoff in Pratolino, this was the largest estate of the Medici. The villa for Francesco I de’ Medici was designed by Bernardo Buontalenti and no longer exists, the lost gardens were once magical with water games, fountains and grottoes. The beautiful park holds many clues to this earlier garden, the greatest survival being the colossal Giambologna sculpture, Appennino (1579-80).
Return to Florence
Evening Optional meal with the group.
Friday 1st May
09.00 Check out of hotel (Bags can be left)
10.00 A twenty minute journey to Villa Gamberaia in Settignano. The garden with its water parterre, nymphaeum and grotto was described by Edith Wharton as ‘probably the most perfect example of the art of producing a great effort on a small scale’.
Return to Florence We will spend the last afternoon in Florence and you can choose to have the time to yourself to do last minute shopping/ take a leisurely lunch or a visit to the Boboli and Bardini gardens with your guide.
17.30 Leave hotel for Florence airport.