Walk Description

The Renaissance period is the most celebrated era in Florentine history. The graceful paintings, daunting family legacies, moving literary tomes and stunning architectural advancements that originated during this time live on in popular imagination as the true symbols of a fully evolved and enormously creative populace. In the course of this tour we'll look at how people lived during the Renaissance and present a comprehensive look at the rich social history of the period.

We'll begin at the medieval church of Orsanmichele. The church, once a grain market, represents the importance of the city's trade guilds, who decorated the structure with ornate sculptures by some of the era's most significant artists. Orsanmichele is integral to understanding the economic and commercial atmosphere of the time. We will then continue on to the recently restored Palazzo Davanzati, an intact noble family residence, which offers a remarkably accurate portrayal of the intimate domestic life of the Medieval and Renaissance Florentines.

After winding our way through the narrow alleys of the compact city center, largely untouched since Renaissance times, we'll continue on to any one of the 15th-century churches, whose altarpieces and frescoes tell numerous tales about life in the city during this exciting time of change and progress. Art, architecture, interior furnishings, consumer goods and clothing will all be discussed at length, in order to create a complete visual narrative of the time period.

Though we cannot be completely comprehensive, as most information that remains from the time period deals with the upper classes, the knowledge gleaned from this walk will prove to be a wonderful preparatory excercise, which will prove useful throughout your stay, in order to better understand the roots of Florence's contemporary society.


Duration: 3 hours
Category: History
Venues: Orsanmichele, Palazzo Davanzati, Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella
Incidentals: Entry tickets- €9.70
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    Kristin Stasiowski

    Kristin is originally from Wellesley, MA and received her PhD from Yale University in Italian language and literature in 2009. Her first taste of Italy came during a semester in Florence with the Georgetown University program at Villa Le Balze where she developed her love of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. After teaching Italian at Yale University, Kristin returned to Florence where she is currently teaching for several American university programs, including New York University and Kent State University. In addition to leading walks for Context Florence, she regularly takes groups of students to Siena to participate in the Palio from the "inside" with the "Contrada dell'Onda," into which she was 'baptized' in June 2006.

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    Lucia Montuschi

    Lucia is a University of Florence PhD art historian who completed her dissertation on eastern art. She has worked and researched in the many state museums of Florence, with a particular focus on art therapy. She has also taught for Pepperdine University and the International Art University. Currently, she teaches Venetian art at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Florence. Lucia is a charming and extremely knowledgeable docent, and is a lover of ideas.

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    Jane Zaloga

    Jane is working on her dissertation for a PhD in architectural history from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. She currently teaches art history and architectural history as an adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University and New York University. She has lived in Florence for ten years, and has a young daughter named Olivia.

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    Cornelia Danielson

    Cornelia has a PhD in art history from Columbia University and wrote her dissertation on Renaissance city planning. She is especially knowledgeable about Medici patronage. In addition to her research and teaching, Cornelia, a mother of a disabled child, runs an association dedicated to barrier-free travel in Florence and is author of "The Accessible Guide to Florence."

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    Alessandra Marchetti

    Alessandra is a native Florentine. She received her MA from the University of East Anglia in the UK, and has been lecturing and guiding in Florence for nearly ten years. She lived many years in the United States before returning to Florence and her little house in Settignano that was once owned by Michelangelo.

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    Monica Shenouda

    Monica completed her PhD in 2009 in the the history of art and architecture from the University of Virginia, specializing in the Italian Renaissance period. As a writer, she is interested in the literary culture of Florence as well as the city's art and architecture. Before coming to Florence, Monica lived in Rome, Venice, New York City, and Charlottesville, Virginia.

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    Elizabeth Butler

    Elizabeth recently received her MA in Florentine Renaissance art from Syracuse University in Florence. Her interests include women's history and women artists, particularly by women in convents. In addition to leading walks, she also lectures at various universities and institutions in Florence.

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    Sheila Barker

    Sheila (BA, Amherst College 1993; MA, MPhil, and PhD, Columbia University 2002) is Director of the Jane Fortune Research Program on Women Artists at the Medici Archive Project. At the archives she undertakes research on women artists, mentors younger scholars, and organizes publications, lectures, and conferences, often in collaboration with the Advancing Women Artists Foundation (AWA). She has held postdoctoral fellowships at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Medici Archive Project. Additionally, she has taught art history at several colleges and has managed the old masters gallery of Robert Simon Fine Art in New York. Her publications cover topics in Renaissance and Baroque art, Pope Urban VIII and politics, and medicine and pharmacy in the seventeenth century. Currently she is editing a book of essays on women artists in Early-Modern Italy and finishing an essay on Michelangelo's "Battle of Cascina."

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    Waldemar de Boer

    Waldemar completed his PhD on a seventeenth-century art guide of Vicenza at the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence in 2005. He recently published a critical edition of Francesco Albertini's "Memorial of Many Statues and Paintings in the Illustrious City of Florence" (1510), which is considered to be the first guidebook to this city. Furthermore, he is conducting postdoctoral research on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art auctions in Italy and works as a private art history teacher. Waldemar is also a certified cheese taster and organizes gastronomic holidays in Tuscany.

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    Lucia Picchi

    Lucia Picchi grew up in Rome where she graduated in 2001 with a thesis on Roman fresco decoration, after which she took part in an internship at the Louvre. In Florence since 2003, she expanded her passion for drawings thanks to a student's grant at the Longhi Foundation of Art History. In this city, she has also continued building on her knowledge of minor arts with a Masters program at the University of Florence, and an additional license in wood restoration. In the last few years, Lucia has been strongly interested in the movement of artworks for temporary exhibitions.

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    Patricia Rucidlo

    Patricia holds an MA in Italian Renaissance history from Cornell University, and another in Italian Renaissance art history from Syracuse University. Both of her theses were on Florentine topics. She also writes about Florence, Tuscany, and Emilia-Romagna for a popular guide book, has led wine tours in Chianti, and has cooked in several Florentine trattorie. She lives in the Tuscan countryside with her husband and six dogs.

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    Siro Chini

    Born and raised under the shade of Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome in Florence, Siro belongs to an important Tuscan family of art nouveau artists. After a diploma in ceramic decoration obtained in 2000, he has worked in a typical Florentine workshop. He received his BA at the Università di Firenze and in 2008 published his research about the Richard-Ginori porcelain production that was commissioned by the vice-king of Egypt upon the celebrations of the opening of the Suez Canal. In order to share his passion and love for art, culture, and the Florentine lifestyle, Siro is professionally trained as a tour guide for his hometown.

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    Molly McIlwrath

    Molly holds an MA in Italian literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she completed her PhD coursework and exams with a specialization in Renaissance and Early Modern periods. She spent a year in Venice as an undergraduate while at the University of California-Santa Cruz and afterwards worked in Siena for two years for the University of California Education Abroad Program. She later went to graduate school and, after finishing her studies in Madison, found herself back in Venice once again for another year, this time conducting archival research for her doctoral dissertation. She has remained in Italy ever since, has taught courses in Renaissance history in Florence, and is a licensed tour guide of Florence and its province.

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    Amal El Khoury

    Amal first came to Florence in 1982 on a scholarship for a one-year ‘Restoration of Architectural Monuments’ course. She has been living in Florence ever since. She was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, where she began her university studies in Architecture. She obtained her MA in architecture from Virginia Tech in 1980. Her experience varies from work in architectural studios to technical illustration to film subtitle translation. She is a professional licensed tour guide for Florence and enjoys sharing her passions for history, art, and architecture with all visitors to Florence. Amal is fluent in Arabic, English, and Italian, and is also good in French and Spanish. She has several years of international experience as a leader in children’s camps, youth interchange programs with CISV (Children’s International Summer Villages), and Lions International Youth Camps in Italy.

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    Alexandra Lawrence

    After studying Italian literature at the graduate level, Alexandra made her permanent home in Florence where she teaches journalism, contemporary Italian culture, and travel writing courses at several local universities. A member of the council of advisors for the Advancing Women Artists Foundation, she is particularly interested in female artists and patronage in Florence and Tuscany. In addition, she has written on several of the city’s most important restorations and has enjoyed getting to know many of the experts in the restoration field. She is a licensed professional guide for Florence and its province and is the editor-at-large of the English language newspaper, The Florentine.