A view of the rooftops in Siena

Florence, Siena & Assisi - Inspirational Tour

See below Florence, Siena & Assisi, destinations we offer together as an inspirational tour

Overview & Itinerary

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Florence Overview

Florence is considered one of the most decorated cities in the world. As such, in 1982, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Despite its reputation as an art city, there are a number of saintly places to visit here. Like many Italian cities, it is filled with churches.

Noble families such as the Medici, who had risen to fame in their respective trades and industries, sought to flaunt their status by decorating chapels or financing the construction of entire churches. Rival families competed with one another in commissioning the greatest artists of the day to create magnificent works of art for their family chapels and funerary tombs.

Florence Inspirational Itinerary

A view of the top of the Santa Maria del Fiore
A view of the Duomo Roof. People have climbed all the way to the top and are enjoying the view of Florence from the balcony railing of the top of the dome.
A view from the outside of the Duomo in Florence
The photo shows the view when looking op towards the dome. It is decorated in great detail with artwork and lit up.
The Baptistery , seen opposite the Duomo

A Pilgrimage to Florence could include visits to

Santa Maria Novella Basilica – Santa Maria Novella is the first and oldest basilica in Florence and is the city’s main Dominican church. The church, cloister, and chapter hall boast artistic treasures and funerary monuments, including frescoes by masters of the Gothic and early Renaissance eras.

Florence’s famed Duomo – Santa Maria del Fiore- Its name (Saint Mary of the Flower) refers to the lily, the symbol of Florence. Built on the site of the 7th-century church of Santa Reparata, the present cathedral was begun in the 13th century. Also referred to as the Duomo, Florence’s distinctive cathedral stands out as the fourth largest church in the world. Its red-tiled dome and decorative exterior of pink, white and green marble make it a landmark recognized the world over. The Duomo is a popular spot to climb (463 steps) for a breathtaking view of the city. The adjacent bell tower was begun in the early 14th century by Giotto. At 85 meters (275 feet), it is visible with the cathedral and dome as the major landmark in the city.

The Baptistery opposite the Duomo – Facing the Duomo is the baptistery. Dating from early Christian times, the octagonal-shaped structure is one of Florence’s oldest buildings. Through the end of the 19th century, all Catholics in Florence were baptized under its roof. Of note are (copies of) Ghiberti’s famous gilded bronze doors known as the Gates of Paradise depicting scenes from the Old Testament.

Orsanmichele – Via dei Calzaiuoli, links Florence’s religious square to its civic square, the Piazza della Signoria. Along the way is a unique church known as Orsanmichele. Originally built as a granary, it was converted into a church in the early 15th century for Florence’s powerful craft and trade guilds.

The Courtyard in the Uffizi Gallery
A view of the inside of the Uffizi Gallery. You can see roman statues and artwork
A black and white photo of the Santa Croce Church
A view of the Florence River
A view of the outside of the Santa Croce Church

Uffizi Gallery – The Gallery is famous worldwide for its outstanding collections of ancient sculptures and paintings including some absolute masterpieces from Giotto, Correggio, Leonard, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Caravaggio. The Gallery also boasts and invaluable collection of ancient statues and busts from the Medici family.

Santa Croce Church (Holy Cross) – Florence’s important Franciscan Church- It is believed that Santa Croce was founded by St. Francis himself, though the current church was constructed in the late 13th century. Santa Croce is best known for its funerary tombs of Florence’s most illustrious personages including Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. (There is the empty tomb honoring Florence’s most legendary writer, Dante, though he is buried in Ravenna where he was exiled for political reasons). Its 16 chapels were decorated by the greatest artists, including Giotto, and commissioned by the city’s wealthiest families. In 1439 the Council of Florence – an attempt to reunite the Catholic and Orthodox Churches – was held here.

Dominican convent (now a museum) and church of San Marco – Once home to Florence’s two most famous Dominican friars: the firebrand preacher, Savonarola, and the artist, Fra Angelico.

Galleria dell’Accademia – The Accademia Gallery was built to house Michelangelo’s magnificent marble statue of David. The museum also showcases other works by Michelangelo including his “Prisoners” series and St. Matthew.

The Basilica of San Lorenzo, the parish church of the Medici – The last must-see church in Florence is the Basilica of San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence). Today engulfed by the city’s main outdoor market, San Lorenzo is one of the largest and oldest churches of Florence. For three centuries, it was Florence’s cathedral. As the parish church of the Medici family, the most celebrated part of San Lorenzo is the Cappelle Medici (Medici Chapels) in the apse. Here almost 50 members of the family are interred.

There are so many sites to see in Florence – as a multi-centre Pilgrimage, Groups may only be able to see a few of these sites in one visit.

Siena Overview

A view of the rooftops in Sienna
A view upward towards the Duomo in Siena
A view of the Siena Cathedral

The medieval Tuscan city of Siena was home to St. Catherine, one of the Church’s most brilliant theologians, who was named a Doctor of the Church. Another important Saint from Siena was the Franciscan St Bernardine.

St. Catherine of Siena’s Holy beginnings- St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) was the youngest of 25 children. She was from a middle-class family of tradesmen and notaries. Already as a child she had visions of angels, seeing them as clearly as the people they protected.

At the age of seven she consecrated herself to Christ, and at 16 she became a professed Dominican tertiary. She embraced a life of prayer and seclusion in a small room in her father’s house. After three years of locutions and conversations with Christ, she underwent a profound experience which she described in her letters as a Mystical Marriage with Jesus. She heard a divine command to enter the public life of the world. Catherine began serving the sick (especially those afflicted with the most repulsive diseases) and the poor, and she worked for the conversion of sinners.

St. Catherine was one of the most brilliant theological minds of her day, although she never had any formal education. Her letters and a treatise referred to as her “Dialogue” are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Catholic Church.

Siena Inspirational Itinerary

A view of the Basilica of St Dominic and surrounding buildings
A view of the Palazzo Pubblico looking upward
The Shrine of the House of St Catherine

A Pilgrimage to Siena could include visits to

St. Catherine’s birth home– where she was born and where she lived her austere early life as a Dominican tertiary. It has been converted into a sanctuary and consists of a series of chapels.

Basilica of St. Dominic – a vast, prominent brick church in Siena. It was founded by the Dominicans in the early 13th century, though today it is more closely associated with St. Catherine.  Immediately on the right side of the nave is a raised chapel housingthe only authentic portrait of St. Catherine

Other important sites in Siena include the cathedral, or Duomo, a veritable treasure trove of ornate Gothic and Renaissance masterpieces; the city’s main square known as Campo or Palazzo Pubblico – the site of Siena’s famous Palio horse race; and the Basilica of St. Francis (also known as the Franciscan church of San Bernardino) that houses an important Eucharistic Miracle.

Assisi Overview

Perugia Street Assisi
Perugia Street Assisi

Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis, who founded the Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208, and St. Clare (Chiara d’Offreducci), who with St. Francis founded the Poor Sisters, which later became the Order of Poor Clares after her death.

Francis of Assisi was an Italian mystic, poet and Catholic friar who founded the religious order of the Franciscans. He was inspired to lead a Christian life of poverty as a beggar and itinerant preacher. One of the most venerated figures in Christianity, Francis was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on 16 July 1228. He is commonly portrayed wearing a brown habit with a rope tied around his waist, featuring three knots that symbolize the three Franciscan vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Francis is associated with patronage of animals and the environment. It became customary for churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of the fourth of October. He is known for devotion to the Eucharist. Along with Catherine of Siena, he was designated patron saint of Italy. He is also the namesake of the American city of San Francisco.

St. Clare was a noblewoman who took a vow of poverty and became a follower of St. Francis of Assisi. She and her following of nuns devoted themselves to a cloistered life of prayer and penance

Assisi Inspirational Itinerary

Greccio Italy
Assisi-Basilica
Basilica St. Francis

Basilica of St Francis – The Mother Church of the Roman Chatolic Order of Friars Minor – commonly known as the Franciscan Order. The Basilica is one of the most important places of Christian Pilgrimage in Italy. With its accompanying Friary, Sacro Convenot, the Basilica is a distinctive landmark to those approaching Assisi. It has been a UNESCO Heritage Site since 2000.

St Clare Basilica – This Basilica is dedicated to and contains the remains of Saint Clare of Assisi. She was a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi and founder of the Order of Poor Ladies, known today as the Order of Saint Clare. On 3 October 1260, Clare’s remains were transferred from the Chapel of San Giorgio to the Basilica of Saint Clare where they were buried in the earth under the high altar of the new church.

Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli, – The Basilica was constructed between 1569 and 1679 enclosing the 9th century little church, the Porziuncola, the most sacred place for the Franciscans. It was here that the young Francis of Assisi understood his vocation and renounced the world in order to live in poverty among the poor and thus started the Franciscan movement. After the death of Saint Francis in 1226, the friars built several small huts around the Porziuncola. In 1230 a refectory and some adjacent buildings were added. In the course of time little porticoes and accommodations for the friars were added around the Porziuncola. Some foundations of these were discovered during excavations under the floor of the present Basilica between 1967 and 1969.

Eremo delle Carceri – a small hermitage in a steep forest gorge at the Monte Subasio, four kilometers above Assisi. The steps and bows arch over a quatrefoil-shaped hole in the smooth pink stone: the so-called “Devil Hole”, a grotto. The word Carceri is from the Latin ‘carceres’ and means “isolated places” or “prisons”). In the 13th century, Saint Francis of Assisi returned here during his life to pray and contemplate as did other hermits before him. When he first came in 1205, the only building here was a tiny 12th-century Oratory. Soon, other men followed him to the mountain, finding their own isolated caves nearby in which to pray. The oratory became known as Santa Maria delle Carceri after the small “prisons” occupied by friars in the area.The site and the Oratory were probably given by the Benedictines to St. Francis in 1215, at the same time they gave him the Porziuncola in the valley below. Francis dedicated himself to a life of preaching and missions, but throughout his life he would frequently withdraw to the Carceri to pray.

 

For a 3 centre Pilgrimage we would recommend a minimum of 2-3 nights in Florence, 1 – 2 nights in Siena and 2-3 nights in Assisi. However, tours can be tailor made to suit the Group.