DAY 1: Check-in at Hotel Helvetia & Bristol Firenze and Welcome Dinner

DAY 2: Piazza Signoria, Church of Orsanmichele and Wine Tasting at Cantinetta Antinori

DAY 3: Cathedral, Exclusive Cathedral Terraces, Baptistery, Cathedral Museum, and Cooking Class

DAY 4: Food Market Tour and Church of Santa Croce

DAY 5: Uffizi Gallery, Florence Art Restoration Laboratory, and Thanksgiving Dinner

DAY 6: Accademia Gallery and Medici Chapels

DAY 7: Check-out of Hotel Helvetia & Bristol Firenze


“You will begin to wonder that human daring ever achieved anything so magnificent.”

John Ruskin, Mornings in Florence (1875)


Why Visit Florence over Thanksgiving?

  • Florence is not very crowded in November so no having to deal with the overwhelming crowds of tourists that mob the city during the summer months.
  • Airfare and hotels are significantly less expensive in November.
  • Mild early-winter temperatures make it very pleasant to walk the characteristic medieval streets of the city
  • It is the best culinary season of the year, with new wine, new olive oil, porcini mushrooms, wild boar, and WHITE TRUFFLES!!!
  • Having a child, grandchild, or sibling studying in Florence is the perfect reason to visit this extraordinarily beautiful city as well.
  • And YES, WE DO TURKEY!!!


Accompanied service

Hotel Main Attractions Guide Sightseeing Tickets Meals

Special offer


The Thanksgiving-holiday week is a great opportunity to visit Florence!!! It provides the perfect vacation window for family members of all ages.

Join us for an authentic insider experience of Florence where participants will

  1. Explore the great churches and museums of Florence with Rocky
  2. Come up close and personal to some of the world’s most famous and iconic works of art including Michelangelo’s David, Botticelli’s Primavera, Brunelleschi’s dome, and Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise.
  3. Learn about the history, power and intrigue of one of Europe’s leading families – the Medici – while exploring first-hand the monuments and legacy that they left behind.
  4. Visit the State Restoration Laboratory of Florence to see famous works of art being restored before your very eyes
  5. Climb up to the Florence Cathedral terraces for an exclusive visit to learn about the history of the great church while enjoying breathtaking views of the city
  6. Enjoy an exclusive winetasting event at the historic Cantinetta Antinori
  7. Taste the culinary wonders of the Central Market and other specialty food and wine shops with an expert.
  8. Prepare a four-course menu using the best seasonal products and learn how to make fresh-handmade pasta
  9. Sojourn at the historic luxury five-star Hotel Helvetia & Bristol
  10. Dine at the historic Trattoria Da Camillo for our Welcome Dinner.

Activity Level: Moderate

Walking tours and on-site visits may entail uneven terrain such as cobblestones and city hills, as well as challenging environments with stairs without handrails and/or the absence of elevators).



Arrival in Florence and check-in at the Hotel Helvetia & Bristol Firenze


7:00pmWelcome Dinner


9:30-10:45am Visit to the Piazza Signoria

The Palazzo and Piazza della Signoria were the great political nerve centers of the Medieval Republic of Florence. The architecture of the Palace and the sculptures within the piazza each reflect the political history of Florence. We will examine the major aspects of the architecture and history within the great urban space, and also look is extraordinary sculptures. Each of the statues in the Piazza della Signoria has story behind it. From the glory days of the republic, to the more decadent days of Medici monarchy, these statues literally tell the tale of Florence’s great history.

10:45am-12:00pm Visit to the Church of Orsanmichele

We will then continue on to the medieval-grain-market-turned- church of Orsanmichele.

The sculptures here were commissioned by the omnipotent guilds of Florence to artists such as Donatello and Ghiberti to express the individual guild’s status and wealth in the city. We will have access to the second floor of the structure in order to see the original statues firsthand and up close.


12:00pm-5:30pmFree afternoon

5:30pm-7:00pmWinetasting at the historic Cantinetta Antinori

The Antinori family is one of the oldest families in Florence and has been producing some of the world’s finest wine for more than half of a century. We shall have a private tasting provided for us in the 15th-century Palazzo Antinori, which has been their home for more than five centuries.




10:00-11:00am – Visit of the Cathedral and Exclusive Visit of the Cathedral Terraces

The Cathedral of Florence, named Santa Maria del Fiore, is the religious center of the great medieval city. For two centuries, it was the largest church in Christendom. It is situated by one of the oldest and most important monuments in Florence – the Baptistery of San Giovanni. We will explore the vast architecture of the Cathedral and analyze the engineering marvels that not only made this structure possible, but also Brunelleschi’s great crowning dome. This will include an exclusive visit of the Cathedral terraces. The terrace walk around the cathedral will instead allow a unique view of both the interior and exterior of the great church, as well as Brunelleschi’s dome.


11:00-11:45am – Private visit of the Baptistery

The Baptistery is one of the oldest monuments in Florence and we will enjoy its breathtaking mosaic decorations and unique architectural decoration.


11:45am-12:30pm – Visit to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo

The lecture will also include a visit to the Cathedral museum which contains one of the most important collections of sculptures in the city including Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise.

Gates of Paradise

12:30pm-5:00pm –Free time

5:00-8:30pm –Evening Cooking Class and Dine what you prepare

Cooking class will take place at a prestigious and local cooking school. You will prepare a four-course menu using the best seasonal products and also learn how to make fresh handmade pasta. Selected wines are also included. After the lesson you will be able to relax and enjoy the recipes you prepared.

This will be a hands-on private course with the school’s renowned chef.




9:00am-12:00pm –A Taste of Florence Food Tour

This tasting walk of Florence’s tastiest food includes stops at the Mercato Centrale, historic bakeries, and gelato tastings… all in Florence’s top-notch historic shops.

In addition to learning about the quality of the foods, explanations of their history and preparation methods are given as you nibble on each delicious bite.

Wine will be served as well!! No need for lunch after this tour (but maybe a nap!)


4:00pm-5:30pm – St. Francis of Assisi, Giotto, and the Celebrity Tombs of Santa Croce)

Visit of the Basilica of Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world. The founder of this order, St. Francis of Assisi, changed the way people saw the world in the Middle Ages.  His love and celebration of nature may have been the spark that ignited the Renaissance. This guy “went green” 700 years before “going green” existed. We will discuss his importance, but also look at the extraordinary art within this great church. Most famous for its celebrity tombs, including the likes of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli, the Gothic church also contains one of the most important cycles of Medieval frescoes by the great master Giotto.



9:30-12:00pmVisit to the Art Restoration Laboratory (Opificio delle Pietre Dure)

The Opificio, as it is commonly known, is the world’s leading restoration laboratory for both painting and sculpture. We shall observe the actual restoration of authentic medieval and Renaissance works of art first hand in an intimate setting as the restorers explain their methodologies to us. We shall also look at and discuss the various old and new technologies available to restorers in order to converse and maintain the extraordinary amount of art located in Florence.


2:30-5:00pmMasterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery

The painting collection in the Uffizi Gallery is the most important collection of Italian Medieval and Renaissance paintings in the world, and includes works by Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo, and Michelangelo.

This lecture will examine these works in depth and will trace the development of Italian painting from c. 1300 to c. 1500.



“Traditional” Thanksgiving-day turkey lunch with all the American and Italian fixings.








10:00-11:00am – Visit to the Accademia Gallery

This lecture will begin in the Accademia Gallery, the 19th-century museum built to house Michelangelo’s David, known in Florence as “Il Gigante.” This statue has been heralded as the greatest expression of sculpture of all time. While standing in its great shadow, we shall dissect all aspects of the David’s style and history.

11:00am-12:00pmVisit to the Medici Chapels

We will then continue our lecture inside Michelangelo’s New Sacristy within the Medici Chapels. Here we will encounter not only Michelangelo as sculptor, but also Michelangelo as architect. Working for the Medici Popes Leo X and Clement VII, Michelangelo designed one of the most innovative Renaissance interior spaces into which he incorporated his allegorical sculptures of the “Times of the Day.”

12:30pmFarewell lunch

2:00pm Free afternoon & (Sadly) End of Program



All participants will be staying at the Hotel Helvetia & Bristol Firenze. A 5-Star hotel part of the Leading Hotels of the World.



Built in 1894 in the heart of Florence’s historical center, this magnificent townhouse is perfectly located for a visit to the city’s main attractions and a stone’s throw from Via de’ Tornabuoni, the city’s most exclusive shopping street. Its elegant rooms and suites offer breathtaking views of the city and while the hotel is equipped with the latest modern comforts, its superb renovation has preserved its architectural splendor and the atmosphere of an aristocratic Florentine residence. Wherever you look you feel the charm of an era: the extraordinary original Art Deco interior, the marble, the 17th-century paintings, the artworks and the splendid original salons. The Hostaria Bibendum, the hotel’s restaurant, serves outstanding Tuscan cuisine and Bar Bibendum is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a signature Bubble Chianti cocktail.


Hotel Helvetia & Bristol – 5 Star

Via dei Pescioni, 2

50123 Firenze


+39 055 26 651


  • Participants will enjoy a SUPERIOR DOUBLE ROOM (possibility to upgrade room)
  • Breakfast is included


Dates & Prices


NOVEMBER 21 – 27, 2021

Double Occupancy – $5,950.00/person

Single Occupancy – $6,350.00/person


–        6-night accommodations in Superior Double rooms at the historic and luxurious 5-star Hotel Helvetia & Bristol in Florence (includes breakfast)

–        All lectures with Rocky

–        All admissions

–        Welcome dinner

– Thanksgiving Dinner at Il Palagio Restaurant – Four Seasons Hotel

–        Winetasting

–        Cooking class

–        Market tour


Not included:

Airfare to Florence

Terms & Conditions

A deposit of 30% of the course fee is required to reserve a space on a program. All payments may be made by credit card or check. Deposits are applied to final payment of the program price.

The balance is due 60 days prior to departure, unless otherwise noted. If full payment is not received by the final payment due date, your place cannot be guaranteed on the program.

Wait List:
If the program of your choice is fully subscribed, you may choose to be placed on a waitlist by contacting us at [email protected] or by phone. Individuals on the wait list will be contacted if space becomes available and can inquire about program status by contacting us. If you choose to withdraw from a wait list, please notify us.

Cancellation and Refund Policy:
Following enrollment, a participant’s withdrawal from the program for any reason, including, but not limited to, illness, injury, family engagements, work-related issues, or geopolitical concerns, etc., will be deemed a cancellation. Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.
Per person cancellation fees are based on date of written notice to Rocky Ruggiero. We will refund on the following basis:
– Cancellations within 10 days of booking: Full Refund
– Cancellations after 10 days of booking: Full Deposit Retained
– Cancellations made within final payment date, 60 days before departure: No Refund
– Cancellation by Rocky Ruggiero: Full Refund or Credit

COVID-19 Cancellation Policy:
In light of the current worldwide pandemic, should a program be postponed or cancelled due to covid-19:

– we can transfer your reservation to a rescheduled date, or
– if you prefer a refund, we will provide you with one.

We will communicate any changes as they happen, but please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Special Travel Arrangements:
Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel either before or after the tour. We will work with you on these arrangements, dependent upon space availability.
Should you decide not to participate in certain parts of the program, no refunds will be made for those unused parts of the program.

Neither Rocky Ruggiero nor faculty shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. Rocky Ruggiero and other faculty reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of tour participants.

Rocky Ruggiero and designated faculty also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the program announced, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a program, or to require any participant to withdraw from the program at any time (including, but not limited for inappropriate, or offensive behavior) when such action is determined by program staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the program group or the individual participant.
Dates, schedules, tour details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication on the website, are subject to change and revision.

The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this program, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the program materials and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the program and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the program materials. The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel program, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of program staff or others. In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the program, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release Rocky Ruggiero, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of program staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this program, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for a “Rocky Ruggiero Program in Italy”, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.