Secret Rooms, Hidden Gardens, Renaissance Treasures

“Look inside my heart and you will see engraved inside, Italy.”
- Robert Browning


Greetings from Florence, where we just bid Arriverderci to the ladies who spent 8 days with us on a secret soggiorno (sojourn) to hidden places in and around Tuscany.


We spent the week with the “who’s who” of the Italian Renaissance in the very places where they created wonders that gave the world so many gifts.


We visited Gallileo’s home and gardens above the hills of Florence to see where he lived his last days under house arrest for heresy and viewed the loggia where he gazed upon the moon with his beautifully made telescope, the first person to accurately portray its surface.


Private Viewing of Michelangelo’s Drawing at his house


We sat in a private room in the house Michelangelo purchased for his family, the Casa Buonarroti and the curator of his drawings (which just came back from the Metropolitan Museum in New York) shared several with us, up close and personal – a truly emotional experience.


We time traveled to the turn of the 20th century, to enjoy a private concert in Giacomo Puccini’s salon, a glittering soprano and accompanist who played his searing arias on the Maestro’s very piano, at the invitation of the Puccini Foundation – just for us.


Breakfast and Booksigning with Ross King, Photo by Jackie Gillum


We stood in the Cathedral of Florence, under its magnificent dome, to hear a fascinating talk on how Brunelleschi pulled off the greatest architectural project of the Renaissance given by the world’s expert on the subject – NY Times Best Selling author, Ross King who wrote the quintessential book: Brunelleschi’s Dome.


One of the Secret Contrada Rooms


We were admitted to what is considered by the citizens of Siena, to be the most “sacred” room of all – a horse stable. The Palio of Siena, a horse race that has Medieval roots is an event that consumes everyone from birth. Secret societies known as “Contrade”, 17 of them, each represented by an animal and located in the various neighborhoods of Siena, obsessively conspire to win the prize. The horse is blessed by the priest in each chapel of the Contrada and then kept in a secret horse stable, that no one is allowed to see, other than the members of the Contrada - and on this trip, our group!


Our group at the Gucci Garden.


Food and wine, were of course emphasized. We snagged a much coveted reservation at the new Gucci Garden restaurant and enjoyed the tasting menu created by 3 Michelin star chef, Massimo Bottura. Oohs and aahs with every course.


This was a special week – Renaissance 101. And even better, a good percentage of the proceeds went to restore a Michelangelo drawing, restore a room at Puccini’s home, maintain the Villa Medici Gardens and preserve Galileo’s legacy by maintaining his home. How many people come to Italy and contribute directly to the organizations who tirelessly work to keep these treasures intact?


This is an intentional mission of every Aria excursion.


We’re going again: October 20-27. The Aria Tour of Tuscany (link to tour page) will include a day trip to the Carrara Quarries, an archaeological journey to the land of the Etruscans, special visits in Florence, a truffle hunt and many other delights.


This tour is half full. Tuscany shows off its colors in the Fall. Come with us. We take care of everything.


Have questions? Contact Carol


“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.”



Ciao!

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