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The Science of the Renaissance Escorted Tour

All tours on this holiday have now departed. Future departure dates will be confirmed in due course.

When one considers the Italian Renaissance, one’s first thought is probably of the peerless art collections in its world-renowned museums. But arguably of more significance was the Renaissance’s contribution to the world of science and our burgeoning understanding of how the world works – from astronomic, anatomic, architectural, medical and mathematic perspectives.

This wonderful tour explores the legacy of the Renaissance in the three pre-eminent cities of science at the time – Florence, Pisa and Bologna - in the company of expert, Andrew Spira and with a talk from New Scientist’s very own editor-at-large, Jeremy Webb. The tour will look at the wondrous collections, buildings and churches that demonstrate the burgeoning of knowledge of the period without which our more recent scientific history would have been very different.

The group size on this tour is limited to 25 passengers to ensure that smaller sites can be visited and that you get a high level of attention. There is a lot of walking on this tour – the best way to explore both cities so please ensure comfortable footwear for hard city pavements. This tour is NOT suitable for those with walking difficulties.

Please note it is also possible to do this tour as a 'land only' package without flights - please contact us for a price and more details. 


Day 1:  Fly to Bologna and transfer to Florence. 
Fly with British Airways from Heathrow to Bologna and transfer by coach to Florence (approx. 90 minutes) to check in to your hotel for a five -night stay. Timings and traffic permitting, afternoon orientation walking tour of Florence – from the state centre of the Piazza della Signoria to the sculpture at the Orsanmichele, and to the religious centre of Piazza del Duomo. Welcome reception, evening lecture by Andrew Spira 'Celestial Heights: the Poetics of Space in Renaissance Art and Astronomy' and dinner with wine at local restaurant (50m), La Grotta Guelfa.

Day 2:  Florence.
A full day in Florence in the company of Andrew Spira including the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo (Cathedral Museum ); Baptistry: Zodiac Floor solstice marble slab, the Duomo including the Gnomon of Paulo da Pozzo Toscanelli; the Ptolemaic Planetarium in the dome of the Old Sacristy, San Lorenzo and Egnazio Danti’s instruments on the facade of the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella.

Day 3:  Florence. 
A second full day includes La Specola Museum of Natural History (Zoology section and Anatomical collections); Tribune of Galileo; Museo degli Argenti (Silver Museum) at the Pitti Palace; and Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine (early perspective). Lecture from Jeremy Webb and dinner with wine at La Grotta Guelfa local restaurant.

Day 4:  Florence.
A third full day of exploration of this stunning city includes the Fondazione Scienza e Tecnica; Pazzi Chapel and monument to Galileo in Santa Croce; and Instituto e Museo Storia della Scienza (Galileo Science Museum).

Day 5:  Full day Pisa.
A full day to Pisa including the Domus Galileana; Museum of Calculation Devices; Cathedral; Baptistry and Campanile (Leaning Tower), where legend (never proven) has it that Galileo conducted his experiment to prove that all objects fall at the same rate.

Day 6:  Florence to Bologna.
Coach transfer from Florence to Bologna for check in to hotel for two-night stay. Afternoon orientation tour of the city centre. Lecture from Andrew Spira - 'Vital Forces: Soul, Mind and Body in the Human and Animal Worlds' and dinner with wine at a local restaurant.

Day 7:  Bologna.
A full day to explore one of Italy’s most under-rated but beautiful cities, including the Cathedral Sant Petronio’s observatory; Palazzo Archiginnasio; Anatomical Theatre and the Museo di di Scienza e Arte at the Palazzo Poggi.

Day 8: Day free until transfer to the airport for return flight to Heathrow.

NB: Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion

Please note the day of the lectures may vary due to lecturer availability.

Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 25 passengers.

Please note it is also possible to do this tour as a 'land only' package without flights - please contact us for a price and more details. 


  • Return flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Bologna
  • Five nights' bed and breakfast at the four-star Pierre Hotel, Florence, based on shared occupancy of a twin/double room 
  • Two nights' bed and breakfast at the four-star Hotel Internazionale, Bologna, based on shared occupancy of a twin/double room
  • Two dinners with wine at local restaurant, La Grotta Guelfa close to the hotel
  • Two lectures at the Florence hotel – one from Andrew Spira, one from Jeremy Webb
  • One dinner at local restaurant in Bologna
  • One lecture from Andrew Spira at Bologna hotel 
  • Airport transfers, all tours and entrance fees as detailed
  • Andrew Spira throughout


  • Single room supplement 
  • Holiday insurance 
  • Meals other than those stated
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls etc
  • Porterage and gratuities  


Pierre Hotel, Florence
Traditional four-star hotel converted from a 19th century palazzo, located within 500m of the Duomo, 300m of the Ponte Vecchio  and 200m of the Palazzo della Signoria.  The boutique-style 50-room,  four-star Pierre Hotel offers a high standard of comfort in a peerless location on a quiet side street in the very heart of Florence. Very comfortable, traditionally-furnished bedrooms are en-suite with bath/shower, air-conditioning, TV, telephone, minibar, safe, free wifi and hairdryer, whilst the hotel also has a breakfast room on the 5ht floor, meeting room and small bar/lounge.

Pierre Hotel Website

Hotel Internazionale, Bologna
Located close to the station and within easy walking distance of the main sights, the four-star Internazionale is housed in a traditional Bolognese palazzo building. Hotel facilities include a cocktail bar, breakfast room and free wi-fi. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities, TV, free wi-fi, minibar, safe and hairdryer.

Hotel Internazionale Website

MORE INFO - Please click here for more tour information

YOUR EXPERT - Andrew Spira
Andrew graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art before completing a MA degree in Museum and Gallery Management at City University, London. He worked at the Temple Gallery, London (specialist in Byzantine and Russian icons), and as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum where he specialised in 18th century British Art and Design, and Metalwork. He also specialises in Russian art, publishing ‘The Avant-Garde Icon: Russian Avant-Garde Art and the Icon Painting Tradition’ in 2008 (Lund Humphries). For 20 years he has been taking tours to cultural sites in western Europe, Russia, Armenia and Georgia. He was Programme Director at Christie’s Education for 10 years before going part-time to focus on his current research project - on personal identity and the way it is reflected in the material culture of western Europe from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Please note that all flight times are provisional and subject to change according to airline schedules.

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