Smithsonian Journeys: Insider’s Florence

The Duomo of Santa Maria in Florence
The Duomo of Santa Maria in Florence

The Smithsonian Journeys Insider’s Florence tour is coming up in March, 2009. I am anticipating a successful program full of behind-the-scenes visits, memorable experiences and special access to private homes and gardens.  We will have special guest lectures, access to the restoration laboratory of the Uffizi and a private visit to the Uffizi and Vasari Corridor.
 
Florence was the birth place of the Renaissance, the city that gave us Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo, Toscanelli, Gucci, Pucci and many more artists, inventors, designers, and geniuses that it is fair to say the world would be immeasurably poorer and less beautiful without their efforts.

We all have our images of Tuscany in our minds: for some it’s the magnificent art, silent hill towns, gorgeous leather bags and shoes and handsome people. For others the enduring charm of Tuscany is in a relaxing glass of red wine, in the hills that look exactly as they did when Leonardo painted them, and in the waiter who’s a dead ringer for Lorenzo de’Medici.

Yet for many it is the simple, neat line of cypress trees that crown hill tops or run along roadsides like so many exclamation points that best defines Tuscany . However one approaches Tuscany, the values evoked are beauty and perfection.

A Chianti vineyard

A Chianti vineyard

Many travelers are seduced as you cannot fail to be by the picturesque landscape and the beauty that man created so much so that some settle here permanently.  That’s what happened to me, I intended to stay in Tuscany for 2 years, and that was 19 years ago.  Travelers have been coming to this region ever since the Middle Ages, to learn, to see and understand.  In the Renaissance, Tuscany served as a haven for humanist scholars, inventors, writers and artists. In our generation, it was first the English, then the Germans, Swiss, and finally the Americans  who descended on Tuscany, soaking up the sun, enjoying the food and adopting the Italian way of life.   
 
Take a week and live life in Florence; walk in the footsteps f Michelangelo and the Medici, and learn why the Renaissance was born in Florence. I hope to see you in March.

Elaine Ruffolo

Study Leader – Insider’s Florence  

Smithsonian Journeys

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Travel to Vienna for with Academic Travel Abroad

 

Christkindlmarkt (advent market) in front of the town hall of Vienna

Christkindlmarkt (advent market) in front of the town hall of Vienna

Visiting Vienna in December is a way to recapture the feelings and impressions of Christmas I felt as a child.  In December darkness falls quite early, but the sparkling lights and magical objects of the Christkindlmarkts and throughout Vienna itself made my eyes widen in excitement and my heart glow in anticipation.  December offers the pleasure of coming into a warm Viennese coffee house from chilly outdoors to order an elegant pastry or a delicious Apfelstrudel with one of the many coffee selections offered.  Vienna is quite serious about coffee.

It’s so easy to get about the city from the Hotel de France, located right on the Ringstrasse.  You can walk so easily to all the places in Vienna’s first district—or, if you get cold—hop on the streetcar that goes in both directions around the Ring.  One shop well worth a visit is The British Bookshop at Weiburggasse 24; it has a wide range of English language books. 

Vienna streets lined in Christmas lighting.

Vienna streets lined in Christmas lighting.

Vienna is truly a city of music from Hayden’s elegant quartets to Straus’s lovely waltzes.  Mozart is very much present in Vienna—you cannot escape his music or his life story.  This Christmas in Vienna program offers one an opportunity to explore and experience Vienna’s fine art and architecture.

This trip offers a full experience of the romance of Vienna and the celebration of Christmas. 

Susan Parry
Secretary Treasurer,
Academic Travel Abroad 
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Click here to learn more about this trip.

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