Study Experiences can arrange a wide variety of educational visits and attractions that can be included in an itinerary to support a Cross-Curricular tour. Below are just a sample. Click here to see full details of all the options available in our Florence guide.
Piazza del Duomo
The beating heart of Florence is the Piazza del Duomo, with its monumental complex of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence’s Cathedral) surmounted by Brunelleschi’s majestic dome; the Battistero di San Giovanni (St. John’s Bapistry), a magnificent example of the Florentine Romanesque; and Giotto’s Campanile (Bell Tower), a Florentine Gothic architectural master work. Behind the Duomo stands the Museo dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. Together this series of buildings and landmarks are of great historical, religious, architectural, artistic and cultural interest.
Ponte Vecchio Bridge
Spanning the narrowest point of the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio Bridge – “Old Bridge” in Italian – is the most famous bridge in Florence. The bridge is made of wood and stone and it is believed that it dates back to Roman times, although it has gone through at least two reconstructions since due to flooding.
Not just a functional structure for crossing the river, the bridge is also a road, a market place and piazza. There have been shops on Ponte Vecchio since the 13th century. Initially, there were all types of shops, including butchers, fishmongers and tanners, but due to the smell caused from some of the establishment’s, in 1593 Ferdinand I decreed that only goldsmiths and jewellers be allowed to have their shops on the bridge. As you walk across the bridge, the small shops are interrupted by two wide terraces which open out on to an impressive view of the river.
San Lorenzo Market
Located in the San Lorenzo quarter, just 5 minutes walk from the Cathedral, this market consists of two separate markets, an indoor market, known at the Mercato Centrale and the outdoor section that lines the surroundings streets of the large Mercato Centrale building. Worth a visit not only as a break from sightseeing but as a pit stop for a snack or lunch.
Open Monday-Saturday the outdoor section of the market which runs along several streets surrounding the Mercato Centrale has numerous stalls on either side of the street with vendors selling pottery, clothing, notebooks and various leather goods including bags, belts, wallets and jackets – ideal for gifts and souvenirs.
At the indoor market (Mercato Centrale) there are two levels. On the ground floor, you will find the butchers, fishmongers, fruit and vegetable vendors and small specialty shops selling local olive oils, meats, cheeses and more. This floor is open every Monday to Friday morning from 7am to 2pm, Saturday from 7am to 5pm and is closed on Sunday and public holidays.
Behind the Palazzo Pitti lie the beautiful Boboli Gardens. A fine example of 16th century Italian landscaped gardens they extend from the hill behind the palace a far as Porta Romana. Commissioned by the Medici family, it became the prototype of the Italian-style garden for many European courts. Its huge green expanse is scattered with plenty of ancient and modern statues, monumental fountains and grottos. Entrance tickets include access to the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, Costume and Fashion Museum, Porcelain Museum and Bardini Garden.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The tower of Pisa is part of a cathedral complex called Campo dei Miracoli or Piazza dei Miracoli. Constructed of white marble it stands at 60 metres and until 1990 was leaning at about a 10 degree angle. Although it was designed to be perfectly vertical, it started to lean during construction. The tower is eight stories in height and you have to climb 297 steps up a spiral staircase to reach the top!
Further Afield: Siena
Siena is one of Italy’s best-preserved medieval cities, the birthplace of St. Catherine and St. Bernadine and is dominated by its unique Duomo (Cathedral) and its striped Bell Tower. A tour includes a visit to the Duomo, including the beautiful Piccolomini Library, designed to house the church’s collection of illuminated manuscripts. This magnificent room features an unrivalled ceiling and large frescoes depicting the important events in the life of Pope Pius II. Continuing with a walk through the narrow and winding streets of Siena to the Piazza del Campo brings you to a vast and lively square in the heart of the city. Twice a year, on July 2nd and August 16th, this Piazza del Campo is layered with straw and soil for the running of the dramatic bareback horse race known as the Palio di Siena. Visit the Basilica of St. Francis, containing the miraculous consecrated hosts that have remained intact since 1730 and then on to view the incorrupt head of St. Catherine at St. Dominic’s Basilica.
Further Afield: Lucca
Lucca, the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, is a lovely entirely-walled city. Its thick swathe of Renaissance walls, enclosing an almost entire medieval street plan, its palaces and houses make Lucca one of the most popular cities to visit in Italy. The most enjoyable way to get your bearings is to follow the path around the top of the walls and then delve into the medieval streets, walking past ancient house façades and making time for some shopping in one of the quaint shops in and around Via Fillungo. The 14th century cathedral Duomo of San Martino houses Nicola Pisano’s Descent from the Cross. Also, don’t miss the multi-patterned columns at “San Michele”, the church of the archangel. Climbing up the Guinigi Tower, where an old oak tree grows on top, is just as fascinating as entering the Piazza Anfiteatro, the ancient amphitheatre, with its marvellous façades and balconies.