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Florence's Surroundings


This tour explores the beautiful surroundings of Florence with a detour to Vinci, hometown of Leonardo, which today hosts two beautiful museums built on his inventions and studies. You will be able to visit magnificent villas with elegant gardens, astronomic observatories, churches and most of all, drive around the beautiful hills that surround Florence, with great views of the city.

We start early in the morning, with an 8:30am pick up.
First stop is at La Petraia villa just outside Florence, with its beautiful rooms and one of the best examples of late-Renaissance garden. Around 10-10:15am we leave to reach Poggio a Caiano villa (10:45am). Both villas used to be owned by the Medici family when ruling Florence. This is probably the most outstanding villa among the ones near the city, with its beautiful architecture and interior decorations. By noon we reach the third and last Medicean villa of the tour, on the hill top of Artimino (Villa Fernandea, after Fernando de' Medici). This villa often hosts events, exhibitions and art shows and has been and today's owners still are wine producers. By 1pm we reach the central square of Carmignano where the charming little “Su pè i'canto” restaurant is located (their menu changes every month too always offer the freshest products possible). By 2pm we then leave and cross the hills of San Baronto to then reach Vinci, hometown of Leonardo da Vinci. We will first quickly see where his birth house was and then go to the Museo Leonardiano, which hosts some of his scripts, inventions and art works. By 3:30pm we head back towards Florence, slightly detouring and passing from the northwestern corner of Chianti, through beautiful olive tree fields.

Around 4:30  we stop at La Certosa monastery, beautiful example of a religious building outside the city and then continue towards Florence's center. We will then drive you through the Viale dei Colli, a beautiful boulevard that goes around the southern edge of Florence. We will show you some beautiful villas, such as the 5star hotel Villa Cora, the Villa di Poggio Imperiale (now a school) and Galileo Galilei's home. Close to this last villa we can even stop at Arcetri's observatory, which is where the famous scientist used to do his studies and where still today you can visit in certain periods of the year the observatory and watch the stars from its powerful telescope (we can even combine a night visit to it after the tour if open). We continue then the Viale dei Colli and reach San Miniato al Monte church, the oldest still standing church of Florence with its magnificent view over the city. Here you can visit the church and admire the view. From San Miniato we drive through some beautiful little roads of the San Niccolò neighbourhood on the south side of Florence and, following one of the few still standing sections of Florence's ancient medieval walls, we reach Giardini Bardini, a small but enchanting garden-museum which overlooks the city center. Time permetting we can even stop at the nearby Forte Belvedere, a big fort-villa which was the southernest outpost of the Florentine army in the city (amazing views from its court, just above the Boboli gardens). By 6pm we head to the opposite side of the city, the northeastern corner, where the small town of Settignano is. If time and availability permits us, we can also visit the beautiful gardens of Villa Gamberaia. The road that from Settignano and Ponte a Mensola heads uphill is beautiful and hosts several amazing villas. Another besides Villa Gamberaia is Villa i Tatti, today owned by Harvard University, or Villa La Capponcina, where famous italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio used to live. We will then drive by the castles of Vincigliata (today one of rich Florentine families and-not-only's favorite place where to hold their weding party) and Castel di Poggio. The road continues and reaches Fiesole, small town that dominates Florence's valley from the north side. This town hosts a beautiful ancient roman theatre and a Francescan monks monastery. The views are also great, and being there between 7:30 and 8:30pm will probably allow you to enjoy a great sunset overlooking Florence. We will then descend towards your stay or to a restaurant in the center passing by Via Bolognese, where you'll be able to peek from the gates Villa Salviati (today hosting the European Union's Archive) and Villa La Pietra, owned by the New York University (NYU).

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