Palazzo Vecchio Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets

Explore the history of Renaissance power in Florence
From US$367 privately
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Tour Details
2.5 hours
Product Type
Palazzo Vecchio
Photos & Highlights
  • Palazzo Vecchio tour led by a historian
  • Traces the history of Florence's political intrigues and dramas from Machiavelli to the Medici
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Tour Description
For over seven centuries, Palazzo Vecchio has been the symbol of the civic power of Florence. Towering over Piazza della Signoria, where it was built in 1299, the palace hosted the Medici (as their private home) and was the headquarters for the Republic. In this Palazzo Vecchio tour, led by a trained historian, you will dive into the famed palace and its layered history. Using art and architecture as your text, you'll look deeply into the intrigues, dramas, and machinations that fueled the Florentine Renaissance. 

Palazzo Vecchio Tour

During your two and a half hours together you’ll look closely at the rise of the Medici family and their influence on the city. During your exploration, you’ll encounter such Renaissance thinkers as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and the great Medici power brokers and patrons that helped make their work possible. You’ll watch the old republican democracy of Florence fade into the quasi-monarchical court of the Medici, and meet a wide array of significant figures from history, including the radical cleric Savonarola whose apocalyptic preaching and eventual “bonfire of the vanities” shook Florence in the last decade of the fifteenth century. Along the way, you’ll gain valuable insight into the politics, biographies, and intrigues that helped shape the Italian Renaissance.

On the Walk

Your visit begins in front of the palace, in Piazza della Signoria, with a brief introduction to the political forces at work during the era of the Florentine Republic. Stepping into Palazzo Vecchio you’ll spend time in the Hall of the Five Hundred, a sort of battleground between the Medici and Republican ideals: an enormous chamber packed full of history and fascinating details. Here you’ll encounter and familiarize yourself with the life-long achievements of Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Using the vivid artwork left by Giorgio Vasari and his school, you will retrace the conquests of the Medici grand duchy, discussing the rivalry between Florence, Siena, and Pisa, and how power was consolidated by the Medici family. You will also spend some time discussing a significant and controversial discovery in the Hall of the Five Hundred of a long-lost Da Vinci fresco and the forty year research project behind it.

From Art to Feminism

The rest of your visit will include time in Cosimo’s private rooms that highlight the glories of the Medici rulers beginning with Cosimo the Elder, the Pater Patriae, banker, and artistic patron who gave rise to the family legacy in the early fifteenth century. Through Vasari’s stunning Hall of the Elements, you will reach the apartments of the powerful and influential Eleonora da Toledo, Grand Duchess, where you will have the opportunity to understand the role of female power in the context of Florentine politics. You will proceed to observe the Florentine Mannerist frescos in the Hall of Justice and after lingering on Donatello's original bronze statue of ''Judith and Holofernes'' in the Hall of the Lilies you will stop at Machiavelli's office and the impressive Hall of Geographical Maps, a massive wardrobe for the Medici possessions. Your discussion will range across topics, from art to politics to sexuality; but the narrative will continue to center on the struggle for power and the use of that power once attained.


At the end of your time with our expert guide you’ll come away with a much more detailed picture of early modern Florence when the city rose to become one of the most important centers of art and learning in the world. You’ll emerge with a better understanding of the Medici family and their pivotal influence on history.

Looking to learn more about the Medici? Head next door for their resplendent art collection on our Uffizi Tour.


For more information about Context tours, please visit our FAQs.

Where do we meet? Where does the tour end? 
We meet at Piazza della Signoria and end at Palazzo Vecchio. Your confirmation email will have the exact meeting point details along with a map.

What are skip-the-line tickets?
For this tour, your tickets are pre-purchased which allows you to skip the ticket office line upon arrival at the museum. You may still have to wait in a security line or in a line to have your pre-purchased ticket scanned.   

Is the Duomo included on this tour?  
Yes, you will see the Duomo on this tour and discuss its magnificent exterior and significance. It doesn’t however include a visit inside the cathedral. If you wish to visit inside and learn more about the Duomo, book our Florence with Kate, Cultural Historian, or Florence Duomo Exclusive Access Tour with Terraces View tours.

Is the Uffizi Gallery included on this tour?  
No, if you’re interested in the Uffizi Gallery, we highly recommend you book our Uffizi Gallery Tour: Crash Course

Where You'll Start
(4.8) 72 Reviews

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Excellent tour of Palazzo Vecchio with Molly who put into context for us the history of Florence during the reign of the Medici family. Highly recommended.
This was an excellent tour, Alesandra combined art, politics, and a bit of historic gossip to make a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. We are regular visitors to Florence but came away with new knowledge (and ideas for next years visit !) Thank you Alessandra this was one of the standouts of our visit !
Very informative tour with Cornelia! She has a commanding knowledge of history and art and a mastery of communication for a complicated subject.