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Private Palaces & Villas of Florence for the ICAA - Defence, humanism, magnificence & beauty

An examination of one of the most fascinating aspects of the Florentine Renaissance, the private palace.

Mediaeval, Baroque, Neo-Classical and 19th-century examples as well.

Led by Professor Fabrizio Nevola, specialist in the urban and architectural history of Early Modern Italy.

Several private visits to see palaces not usually open to the public.

  • Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, copper engraving c. 1770
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Day 1

Independent arrivals to Florence. Meet at the Hotel Savoy. In the afternoon, visit the Palazzo Vecchio, a sturdy fortress at the civic heart of the city with outstanding interiors and lavish frescoes by Ghirlandaio in the sala dei gigli and by Bronzino in the Chapel of Eleanor of Toledo. Continue to the 16th-century Palazzo Lanfredini, with handsome sgraffiti on the façade and home to the British Institute where the Director hosts a talk and drinks reception. First of five nights at the Hotel Savoy.

Day 2

In the morning visit Palazzo Davanzati, built in the second half of the 14th century in one of the oldest quarters of Florence. See Palazzo Strozzi, a late 15th-century construction of formidable proportions. Palazzo Rucellai demonstrates the introduction of Greek and Roman features to Florentine palaces in the 1440s by Leon Battista Alberti. After some free time for lunch, there is a private visit to Palazzo Budini Gattai, designed by Renaissance architect and sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati.

Day 3

The Bargello, a mediaeval palazzo, houses Florence’s finest sculpture collection with works by Donatello, Verrocchio and Michelangelo. Private visit to Palazzo Marucelli Fenzi. Built in the 16th century for the Castelli family by Gherardo Silvani and later enlarged by the Marucelli family, it contains paintings by Sebastiano Ricci. Continue to Palazzo Corsini al Prato: begun in 1591 to designs by Bernardo Buontalenti, the palazzo was acquired in 1621 by Filippo Corsini and most of the palace and gardens date to his refurbishment. The Corsini are among the oldest and most distinguished of Florentine families. Lunch here, hosted by the owner. The rest of the afternoon is free.

Day 4

Enjoy a day in the hills and countryside surrounding Florence. Villa Poggio Torselli has undergone a recent, award-winning restoration; the grand 17th-cent. house with a magnificent avenue is surrounded by beautiful countryside. Private lunch here. At picturesque Settignano, visit Villa Gamberaia, one of the loveliest gardens in Italy. Villa La Pietra, created by Arthur Acton (Harold’s father) has one of the largest Anglo-American gardens set in 57 acres with fine vistas, a green theatre, 180 statues and much else.

Day 5

Private visit to the exuberantly baroque Palazzo Corsini al Parione. The main façade fronts the Arno, with two wings on either side of a recessed central block with superimposed loggie and terrace overlooking the river. In the afternoon, visit the Uffizi, which has masterpieces by every major Florentine painter as well as international Old Masters. In the early evening, visit the privately owned Palazzo Gondi (private visit), designed in 1490 by Giuliano da Sangallo, the favourite architect of Lorenzo de Medici. There are remarkable views of the city from the terrace. Dinner is at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Day 6

The tour ends today after a morning visit the chapel in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi with exquisite frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli.

The tour is dependent on the kindness of many individuals and organisations, some of whom are reluctant to make arrangements far in advance, so the order of visits outlined above may change and there may be substitutions for some palaces mentioned.

Price – per person

Two sharing: £3,190. Single occupancy: £3,890.

Kindly note that a separate $500 donation to the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA) is required to attend this program. To process your donation, please visit or call 1.212.730.9646 x109.


Travel by private minibus or coach; hotel accommodation; breakfasts; 2 lunches and 3 dinners with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.


Hotel Savoy, Florence: A member of the Rocco-Forte collection, the 5-star Hotel Savoy is located centrally in the prestigious Piazza della Repubblica, a short walk from the Uffizi and the Duomo. Single rooms are doubles for sole occupancy.

How strenuous?

The tour involves a lot of walking in the town centre where the ground is sometimes uneven and pavements are narrow. It should not be attempted by anyone who has difficulty with everyday walking and stair-climbing. Fitness is essential.

Are you fit enough to join the tour?

Group size

Between 8 and 18 participants.

Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting:

This tour is provided in association with the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. The ICAA is the leading organization in the nation dedicated to the preservation and continuation of the classical tradition in architecture, design, and the allied arts. The ICAA offers a variety of travel programs each year, providing participants with opportunities to visit and learn from exclusive locales and beautiful examples of classical architecture and design. Tailored to the interests of ICAA members, these travel programs deliver unique experiences for participants to witness the greatest historical and classically inspired sites across the nation and around the world.

Map: Florence.