One of Joe Banana's English speaking drivers will meet you at the port of La Spezia. You will need to take the shuttle from the cruise ship to the parking lot where our driver will be waiting for you, holding a sign with your name on it. You will then be chauffeured about 2 hours to reach Florence.
Your private driver will take you along the Viale dei Colli, where you will arrive at the marvelous terrace called Piazzale Michelangelo (named after the artist who sculpted the original David statue). Here you'll have one of most beautiful views of the city. Nearby you can also see the white and green marble facade of the S. Miniato al Monte church - an example of the Florentine Romanesque style.
After leaving the church, we will follow an uphill road, bordered by the ancient city walls, until we reach Forte Belvedere, built around 1590 by the Grand-Duke Ferdinand to protect the Medici villas. From Fort Belvedere we'll drive through the old gate of the city, Porta Romana, and we will come to the impressive Pitti Palace, which hosts many galleries and museums (Gallery of Modern Art, Costume Gallery, Palatine Gallery, Royal Apartments, Coach Museum, Silver and Porcelain museums, etc) and a magnificent park called the Boboli Gardens.
Then we'll drive to the city center, arriving in Piazza della Repubblica, surrounded by the historical literary cafés, where a long tine ago important intellectuals used tomeet together.
Following the Via De'Calzaiuoli, which connects Piazza del Duomo (S. Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery, Giotto's Bell tower) to Piazza Signoria (Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi , loggia dei Lanzi) you will be able to admire the best masterpieces of Renaissance art, breathing in the magical atmosphere that only Florence can offer.
Your private driver, completely at your disposal, will be more than happy to take you to Piazza Santa Croce to visit the Santa Croce church, where many famous Italians are buried. After this, you will have a well-deserved break from sight seeing of the day. For those who would like to shop or the hungry soul, there are also many shops and "local trattorias” to dive into, so everyone in the group can satisfy their desires whether it be a leather jacket or a scrumptious plate of pasta!
Shopping can be a unique experience in Florence. Walking through its ancient medieval streets, exploring the city's renowned tradition of crafts and family-run businesses, few cities of comparable size can boast such variety of high quality goods with Italian design. The most important street for shopping is Via De' Tornabuoni with designer boutiques like, Gucci, Prada, Ferragamo, Armani, Vuitton, Valentino, Cartier, Trussardi, Eleuteri, Buccellati, Coveri, Versace, Tiffany, YSL, Zegna, Desmo, Chopard, Tod's, Cavalli, etc. We can also see what the local craftsmen have to offer in the small local workshops in the Santa Croce or Santo Spirito neighborhood, or practice your bargaining skills at the San Lorenzo outdoor market.
At some point in the day, you could choose to visit the Academy Museum to admire the original David statue by Michelangelo (the David statues found at Piazzale Michelangelo and in Piazza Signoria are both copies and pale in comparison!), or ride up to visit the ancient Etruscan town of Fiesole above Florence to catch another view or explore the old Roman Amphitheatre.
After this spectacular day in Florence, we will drive about 2 hours back to La Spezia port.