Sacred Sites Tour 2019

October 18 – 26, 2019

$2200 single $2400 double occupancy

Three spaces available

Regina Cipressa/Queen Cypress 350 years old


Day 1- Friday, October 18 – Arrival

Arrivals – I will meet you at the airport

Settle into rooms at one of two fully-equipped apartments in the lovely, quiet Oltrarno district, 15 minutes from downtown.


Walk in Boboli Gardens or across the Ponte Trinita into city center and make a slow tour of the heart of old downtown Florence.

Santa Maria del Fiore

6:30 Early Dinner at Angiolino’s,traditional Tuscan cooking in a warm atmosphere.

Day 2 – Saturday, October 19 – Jet Lag Day

Sleep late

11:00 The Brancacci Chapel – A small chapel inside San Carmine with frescoes by  Masolino and Masaccio (1428)  and later Filippo Lippi. The difference between Masolino and his pupil Masaccio’s work illustrate the new developments marking the early  Renaissance .

Frescoes at Brancacci Chapel

5:00  After tea at Osteria Toscanella,  stroll with Fabrizio Gori through Santo Spirito (Brunneleschi) and Santa Felicita (Pontormo’s Deposition)

7:30  Dinner at Osteria Toscanella

Day 3 – Sunday, October 20 – Fiesole 

10:00 – Fontelucente is an unassuming but very special little church built over a small spring of reputed healing waters. It is only open on Sunday when Mass is celebrated with the small but devoted congregation. We can attend the service or skip it and visit directly after.


12:00  Coffee break at Alcedo, the best pasticceria in the whole Florence/Fiesole area. It does not disappoint.

We will wander through the village, see the Roman and Etruscan ruins and then enjoy the exquisite collection of Etruscan and Roman art in the Museum there. 

Etruscan water dish

2:00  Lunch at Vinandro – This cozy trattoria serves Tuscan fare with local produce and original flair.

3:30  Hike to La Cypressa Regina, the 360 year old cypress with a powerful presence, an hour’s hike outside of the hilltop town Fiesole.

The Queen Cypress of Fiesole
Road to the Queen Cypress

Dinner at Casalinga

Day 4 – Monday, October 21 – Day Trip to La Verna 

La Verna

9:00 Meet at my apartment – Car leaves for La Verna

This monastery was built in the early 13th century for St. Francis on a mountain in the Casentino forest. The hermitage rises out of the white granite hillside and is barely distinguishable from a distance, seeming to be an extension of the cliff. The monastery is famous for the little chapel that was built on the site where St. Francis received the stigmata.

The friars here take a vow of silence, though they chant during their day. The atmosphere is contemplative, the air spruce-scented and the only sounds are birdsong and wind through the pines. 

It is a one and one-half hour drive from Florence through lovely Tuscan countryside. There are several options for interesting stops along the way, including a Camaldolian hermitage and the ruins of a castle in Poppi. We can spend the day there taking in the beautiful spirit and teachings of St. Francis.

8:00 Dinner at Cafaggi, my favorite fish restaurant has been run by the same family, and they are all there, from nonna to youngest son, since the 1950’s. The owner is very particular about the quality of the fish.

Day 5 – Tuesday, October 22 – The Power of Art and Architecture

10:00 Museo Dell’Opera -This newly renovated museum contains many of the original works from the Duomo and Baptistery, including the magnificent “Gates of Paradise” and Michelangelo’s last Pieta. The new space is airy and beautifully lit and there are well designed interactive videos strategically placed.

12:00  The Baptistery is the breathing heart of Florence, and perhaps its oldest building, begun in the 5th century on top of a Roman temple. Brunelleschi’s Duomo may dwarf the little black and white Baptistery but cannot compare with its powerful and strange geometry. My personal favorite.

Baptistery mozaic dome ceiling

1:00 Lunch at Il Porcellino

Break (Or we could try to squeeze in the Accademia to see the original David)

7:00 Pizza and salad dinner at my apartment

Day 6, Wednesday, October 23 – City Center

9:00  Uffizi Gallery – The Metropolitan Museum of Florence, with everyone and everything you could ever want to see from Cimabue to Carravaggio.


12:30  Mercato Centrale – the largest food market in Florence with hundreds of stalls purveying prosciutto, cheeses, breads, vegetables and fruits of extraordinary quality and variety. And we get to eat lunch at the famous Nerboni’s in an open corner . Here’s what my husband , Paul, has to say about Nerboni’s:

“The Market is, of course, one of the most remarkable spots in Florence. I recommend that you get there early and spend some time strolling and looking. Then at around 11:00, before the crowds descend, go to Nerboni’s and have a porcetta panino. Tell them to put it in the “bath”, the juices it was cooked in, and ask for the green sauce. Delectable.”

Nerboni’s in Mercato Centrale


7:30 Dinner at Il Tranvai

Day 7, Thursday, October 24, Picnic at Manuela’s Castelvecchio

Free morning

1:00 Taxi to Manuela’s for Picnic Lunch in her tranquil garden. She is one of my dearest friends in Florence and shares her house and garden to express her support of the African Artists Community Development Project, which you are supporting too, by coming on this tour! This is a very special experience.

Pranzo at Castelvecchio

4:00  Walk to San Miniato– One of the oldest and most elaborately planned gothic basilicas in Florence, with every measurement made according to ancient aesthetic and spiritual principals, on a splendid hilltop overlooking all of Florence. (For much more about this read “The Language of the Angels, Secrets and Symbols in the Basilica of San Miniato in Florence” by Renzo Manetti

San Miniato al Monte

6:30 Plainsong service at San Miniato


8:00 Dinner at I Raddi.

Day 8, Friday, October 25 – Accademia

9:30 The Accademia where we find Michelangelo’s David, and other renaissance treasures.

Afternoon  Expedition to Villa Gamberaia

Villa Gamberaia
Little Woods at Villa Gamberaia

This nearby villa is a delightful example of Italian architecture united with ingenious landscaping. Here’s how Edith Wharton described it:

Probably the most perfect example of the art of producing a great effect on a small scale… because it combines in an astonishingly small space, yet without the least sense of overcrowding, almost every typical excellence of the old Italian garden: free circulation of sunlight and air about the house; abundance of water; easy access to dense shade; sheltered walks with different points of view.”  Italian Villas and Their Gardens (London, 1903)

4:00 Optional walk with Fabrizio Gori 

7:30 Dinner at Osteria Toscanella

Day 9, Saturday, October  26  – Departures

Tour price includes:

  • Airport pick up
  • Accommodations
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • All transportation
  • Local guides
  • Entrance fees and reservations

You just show up.

Interested? For more info contact me at

$500 deposit saves you a space. Checks can be sent to:

POB 3000 PMB 3051
West Tisbury, MA 02575

For more info call Marsha Winsryg 
508 560 2620 or 508 693 4059

Best of all, these tours support the work of the African Artists Community Development Project in Zambia. Please check out our projects for children with disabilities and women’s economic empowerment at other tabs on this website. Thank you!

Painting with Mama Bakhita school children
Painting with Gavin at the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home in Livingstone, Zambia.