Monday afternoons at Showlight have always been the time to explore the host city and Florence is blessed with a wealth of cultural gems which have inspired creative minds for centuries. The Showlight Committee has worked closely with local events group, Affresco, to offer a bespoke programme of visits that cover all tastes and interests. This year there is more choice than ever with 23 tours covering 15 sites which we hope will prove a source of inspiration to you . . .

Need to know . . .

Florence is an open museum and many of the tours are focussed around its centre. Showlight has arranged for unprecedented, exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to many places not usually open to the public. Specialists in their trades will give you an insight into the arts of paper marbling, restoration, and perfumery, to name but a few.

Each tour will be led by professional, English-speaking guides rich in the knowledge of their city and allocated to each group as a personal guide for the whole afternoon. Some tours will also benefit from bespoke backstage visits led by resident staff members.

City centre tours are limited by number to manageable group sizes and headsets will be provided on all walking tours.

Some walking tours have the opportunity for coffee/refreshment breaks so remember to carry some Euros with you. All trips will finish with enough time to return to your hotel to freshen up before the Gala Dinner in the evening.

Please note, Florence is a medieval city with narrow streets which prohibit the use of coaches in the city centre. For this reason, many of the trips involve a considerable amount of walking, for which sensible shoes and a reasonable level of fitness are recommended. Tours P & W are intended for those who may find the walking tours too challenging. Tours D, E, F & G are open to all delegates but also suitable for those who prefer less walking. Please bear this in mind when making your choices.

Below is a list of the visits on offer which are grouped into 23 tours. Delegates will be asked to make their choice listing three Tour Groups in order of preference and send them to Showlight Chairman John Allen and we will do our best to accommodate your wishes. As some visits are restricted by number, allocations will be on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Please note that, due to the large number of tours on offer and the number of prepaid entrance tickets involved, you will need to stay with your tour of choice and not swap horses mid-stream!

The Trips . . .

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    Pergola Theatre

    Built in 1656, and with a prestigious history, first as a court theatre and then a public opera house, Teatro della Pergola is the oldest theatre in Italy and remains active to this day. Despite being remodelled and restored several times, this Baroque theatre has much of its original machinery still intact. An exclusive Showlight tour will give you the chance to discover the treasure trove of hidden gems in the sub-stage, which will be of immense interest to those interested in theatre history.

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    Perfumery of Santa Maria Novella

    Founded in the fifteenth century as an adjunct to a monastic hospital, the perfumery began life as one of the earliest pharmaceutical workshops and now continues to create perfumes and herbal preparations based on the same traditional artisanal techniques. Showlight delegates will be able to experience the heady aromas in a guided tour of the perfumery and the spectacular frescos of the sacristy, and have the opportunity to purchase handmade fragrances from the shop.

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    Workshop of Semi-Precious Stones

    Specialists in the creation and restoration of stone mosaics and other artworks, Opificio delle Pietre Dure is internationally recognised for its expertise and specialist knowledge in the field of art restoration. One of only two Italian state conservation schools, it conducts research and diagnostics and provides a preventive conservation service. Perhaps its most famous restoration project is that of Ghiberti’s Paradise doors for the city’s Baptistry following the disastrous floods of 1966. This Showlight tour of the museum and workshop will be led by one of the Laboratory’s own restorers giving you a unique insight into some of the skills and techniques involved in this invaluable and intricate work.

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    Opera di Firenze (Coach Trip)

    Showlight visitors will be taken by coach to Florence’s newest theatre Opera di Firenze which opened just two years ago to replace the Teatro Communale. The Opera di Firenze houses state-of-the-art facilities and Showlight delegates will be treated to a tour which includes an exclusive guided back stage tour by the Opera di Firenze’s own technical manager.

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    Antinori Cellars, Bargino (Coach Trip)

    Owned by the most ancient producers of wine in Florence, this family-run facility is an architectural masterpiece and an incredible feat of engineering. Located in an excavated hillside to conceal it from sight, delegates will be guided around the facilities by a specialist member of staff and have the opportunity to partake of some wine-tasting on the terrace overlooking the hills into which it is set.

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    Restaurant Olio

    Time spent in this long-established, typically Florentine restaurant will be an experience the discerning gastronome will not want to miss. Discover the refinements of Tuscan cuisine as you enjoy a selection of wine, cheeses and salami in an elegant yet informal atmosphere. An Olio specialist will lead you through a bespoke, gastronomic experience in the Italian tradition with top end, traditional Tuscan fare. Please note: this visit is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, and we recommend you don’t eat much for lunch!

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    Boboli Gardens

    Situated beside the Pitti Palace, this is the garden of Florence. Created as a show of wealth by the powerful Medici family, this is a perfect example of Italian garden architecture which has become a place of tranquillity close to the heart of all Florentines. With every plant, flower and statue planned and sited to perfection, it is sheer theatre in plant form, and the site of an original garden theatre to boot. If you are looking for inspiration in the interplay of light, you can’t go far wrong with a stroll through the Boboli Gardens.

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    Florence City Centre & Oltrarno

    Between site visits your personal guide will walk you through the streets and history of the heart of the city of Florence to help you get to know it and some of its riches. Some tours also take in the Oltrarno, the south side of the River Arno. This area is less well-known to tourists and considered as the most authentic part of the city and still belonging to the Florentines. Ancient Romanesque churches lacking the marble facades familiar to the centre of Florence exude elegance without luxury on the outside, whilst concealing the most fantastic frescoes on the inside. This tour is your opportunity to get to know it better.

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    Laboratory Bartolozzi & Maioli

    Join an exclusive Showlight tour of this family-run restoration and replication workshop which specialises in the restoration and re-creation of wooden architectural masterpieces. A ‘real’ theatrical prop shop, the work here is part restoration and part recording of architectural history gleaned from churches and public and private buildings. Specialist Italian know-how in wood, fabric, goldwork and many other artisan trades is exported from here around the world in projects of all scales from local churches to the Kremlin. If you want to commission an architectural masterpiece for your own palace, this would be a good place to start!

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    Laboratory Giulio Giannini – artistic book-binding and traditional Florentine marbled paper

    This tiny laboratory and shop near the Pitti Palace is home to the traditional art of Florentine paper marbling as well as artistic bookbinding and handmade paper. This Showlight tour ensures delegates will be able to squeeze into the bijou works to witness the skill of marbling paper and learn more about the craft from the laboratory’s own specialist in the art. NB this tiny studio is restricted to 10 delegates at a time so book early!

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    Palazzo Vecchio

    Originally the first home of the Medici, this impressive building towering over the Piazza della Signoria is now the city’s Town Hall. Delegates will be given a guided tour of the palace and museum, including the spectacular Salone di Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred) with its beautiful – and enormous – frescoes, and the tiny studio of Franscesco Primo. Who wouldn’t want to visit the home of a family who built a walkway from the Palazzo Vecchia to the new Palazzo Pitti for fear of being murdered by the crowd! Inspiration aplenty awaits – will you be able to escape?

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    Santa Croce Church

    The Duomo may be the face of the city, but Santa Croce is the heart. This is the favourite church of the Florentines, the history of which along with its square, is central to the Florentine story. Florentine glitterati including Michaelangelo, Gallileo, Machiavelli, Ghiberti and Dante are buried or commemorated here amid frescoes by Giotto, and give an indication of the importance of Florence and the genius of its scientists, philosophers and artists in the Renaissance period. Your personalised tour guide will help you discover them and learn more of what is behind what you see.

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    Leather Workshop/School

    Established after the Second World War as a place for poor people to study the art of leatherwork, this family owned business is still, first and foremost, a school which attracted students from all over the world to learn the skills of leather working. Showlight delegates will have a guided tour around the beautiful original premises and be able watch the students at work. A shop selling some of the leather goods gives you the opportunity to take home some of the fine work produced.

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    Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo (Cathedral) and Baptistry (Part mini-van trip)

    A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Duomo is surely the landmark of Florence. Constructed to declare the city’s power, and therefore important to be visible from afar, the dome is still the largest brick dome ever constructed and the view from the top is said to be the best in Florence.

    The Baptistry is one of Florence’s oldest buildings and most beautiful spaces abounding in architectural and decorative splendour matched only by the importance of its place in the city’s history. It is now fully reopened after many years of restoration of its spectacular frescos and carvings.

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    Central Market

    An informal meeting place for Italians and tourists alike, Mercato Centrale is a collection of small independent restaurants and food stalls housed in a traditional indoor market in the heart of the city. Restored and reopened in 2014, the market is dedicated to the Italian excellences of food and wine. Showlight delegates will be given a full tour and the dining experience of their choice. Convivial and energetic, the Mercato Centrale is the place to meet, eat and talk.


Tour Groups – Make Your Selection . . .

Delegates are requested to make their choice listing three tour groups (see below) in order of preference, and we will do our best to accommodate your wishes. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Please note that, due to the large number of tours on offer and the number of prepaid entrance tickets involved, you will need to stay with your tour of choice. All tours start from the Palazzo dei Congressi where you will meet with your English-speaking guide for the afternoon and be issued with headsets if appropriate to your tour. All trips will finish with enough time to return to your hotel to freshen up before the Gala Dinner in the evening.

Please select your top three Tour Groups from the following and email your selection to John Allen. . .

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    Group A: A Scent of Baroque Theatre

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi and start your programme with a guided walk to the Perfumery of Santa Maria Novella where you will be treated to a tour by the perfumery guide. Continue on a guided walking transfer to La Pergola Theatre for a bespoke tour of the Baroque theatre before enjoying a tour around Florence city centre and walking return back to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group B: Restoring the Art of Theatre

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi and start your programme with a guided walk to La Pergola Theatre for a bespoke tour of the Baroque theatre. Continue on a guided walking transfer to Workshop and Museum of Semi-Precious Stones. Enjoy a tour of the museum and exclusive visit to this unique workshop before returning on a guided walk through Florence’s city centre and back to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group C: Inspiration in Scent & Stone

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi and start with a guided walk to Perfumery of Santa Maria Novella where you will be treated to a tour by the perfumery guide. Continue on a guided walking transfer to Workshop and Museum of Semi-Precious Stones. Enjoy a tour of the museum and exclusive visit to this unique workshop before returning on a guided walk through Florence’s city centre and back to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Groups D & E: Old Skills meet Modern Techniques 1 (Coach Trip)

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. Transfer by luxury 54-seater coach to Opera di Firenze for a full tour of the Opera House and a private backstage tour led by Opera di Firenze’s technical manager. Transfer by coach to Antonori Cellars in Bargino for a tour of the hidden winery and wine tasting on the terrace. Return transfer by coach to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Groups F & G: Old Skills meet Modern Techniques 2 (Coach Trip)

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. Transfer by luxury 54-seater coach to Antonori Cellars in Bargino for a tour of the hidden winery and wine tasting on the terrace. Transfer by coach to Opera di Firenze for a full tour of the Opera house and a private backstage tour led by Opera di Firenze’s technical manager. Return transfer by coach to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group H: A Taste of the Old Town 1 (Part Mini-van Trip)


    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. A one-way transfer by luxury 8-seater minivan will take you to Restaurant Olio where Showlight delegates will enjoy a gastronomic treat in the form of an Italian tasting session in elegant surroundings. A walking tour of the Oltrarno area follows, culiminating in a guided visit to Boboli Gardens. From here you will be taken to the Bartolozzi & Maioli restoration and replication workshop for an exclusive visit and then onto the diminutive Laboratory Giulio Giannini to witness the art of traditional Florentine paper marbling. A walking transfer will return you to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group I: A Taste of the Old Town 2 (Part Mini-van Trip)

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Fortezza da Basso. A one-way transfer by luxury 8-seater minivan will take you to Restaurant Olio where Showlight delegates will enjoy a gastronomic treat in the form of an Italian tasting session in elegant surroundings. A walking tour of the Oltrarno area follows culminating in a guided visit to Boboli Gardens. From here you will be taken to the diminutive Laboratory Giulio Giannini for an exclusive visit to witness the art of traditional Florentine paper marbling, and then on to the Bartolozzi & Maioli restoration and replication workshop for another unique visit. A walking transfer will return you to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group J: A Taste of the Old Town 3 (Part Mini-van Trip)

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. A one-way transfer by luxury 8-seater minivan will deliver you to Piazza Pitti and a guided visit to Boboli Gardens. From here you will transfer on foot to the Bartolozzi & Maioli restoration and replication workshop for a private visit, before moving to the diminutive Laboratory Giulio Giannini for an exclusive visit to witness the art of traditional Florentine paper marbling. From here a walking tour will take you to Restaurant Olio where Showlight delegates will enjoy a gastronomic treat in the form of an Italian tasting session in elegant surroundings. A walking transfer will return you to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group K: A Taste of the Old Town 4 (Part Mini-van Trip)

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. A one-way transfer by luxury 8-seater minivan will deliver you to Piazza Pitti and a guided visit to Boboli Gardens. From here you will transfer on foot to the diminutive Laboratory Giulio Giannini for an exclusive visit to witness the art of traditional Florentine paper marbling, and then on to the Bartolozzi & Maioli restoration and replication workshop for another unique visit. From here a walking tour will take you to Restaurant Olio where Showlight delegates will enjoy a gastronomic treat in the form of an Italian tasting session in elegant surroundings. A walking transfer will return you to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group L & M: Medici meets Modernity (Part Mini-van Trip)

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. A transfer by luxury 8-seater minivan will deliver you to Piazza della Signoria and a guided visit of Palazzo Vecchio. Your minivan will then transfer you to Opera Firenze for a private backstage tour led by Opera di Firenze’s technical manager before returning you to the Oltrarno area for a walking tour of the south side of Florence, culminating in a visit to Boboli Gardens and a return transfer to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group N: Past & Present Craft Masters 1

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. Start with a walking tour to Santa Croce Church where you will receive a guided tour of the church, followed by a walking tour of the Santa Croce area. Visit the Scuolo del Cuoio (Leather Workshop / School) for a behind-the-scenes tour before transferring on foot to La Pergola Theatre for a bespoke tour of this Baroque theatre. A walking transfer will return you to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group O: Past & Present Craft Masters 2

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. A walking transfer will take you to the Scuolo del Cuoio (Leather Workshop / School) for a behind-the-scenes tour. From here enjoy a guided walking tour of the Santa Croce area and a tour of Santa Croce Church. From here a walking tour of Florence’s city centre will take you to Piazza della Signoria and a visit to Palazzo Vecchio. A walking transfer back through Florence city centre will return you to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group P: Theatres Past & Present (Mini-van Trip)

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. Transfer by luxury 8-seater minivan to Opera di Firenze for a private backstage tour led by Opera di Firenze’s technical manager. Transfer by minivan to Piazza della Signoria for a visit to Palazzo Vecchio, after which you minivan will transfer you to La Pergola Theatre for a bespoke tour of the Baroque theatre. Your minivan will then return you to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group Q & R: Body & Soul - a taste of the City 1

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. A guided walking tour will take you to the Santa Maria del Fiore area and a visit of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Baptistry. Continue your walking tour through the delights of Florence city centre and on to the Mercato Centrale / Central Market where you will be given a tour of the market, and the opportunity to sample some of the delights on offer at the many Italian food stalls of this bustling meeting place. A short walk will return you to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group S: Body & Soul - A Taste of the City 2

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. A guided walking tour will take you to the Mercato Centrale / Central Market where you will be given a tour of the market, and the opportunity to sample some of the delights on offer at the many Italian food stalls of this bustling meeting place. A walking tour will then take you on to the Santa Maria del Fiore area and a visit of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Baptistry. Continue your walking tour through the delights of Florence city centre, including the Ponte Vecchio, and return to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group U: Spiritual Heart of the City

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. A guided walking tour will take you to the Santa Maria del Fiore area and a visit of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Baptistry. A further walking tour will take you through the delights of Florence city centre and on to Santa Croce Church and a guided tour of this ‘heart’ of the city. Continue on through the Santa Croce area and arrive at the Scuolo del Cuoio (Leather Workshop / School) for a behind-the-scenes tour, after which you will return to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group V: Historical Heart of the City

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. A guided walking tour will take you to the Santa Maria del Fiore area via the San Lorenzo district, and a visit of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Baptistry. Your walking tour will then continue through the delights of Florence’s city centre, and on to Piazza della Signoria where a guided visit to Palazzo Vecchio awaits. A walking transfer will return you to Palazzo dei Congressi.

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    Group W: A Pot pourri of Past & Present (Mini-van Trip)

    Meet your English-speaking guide in Palazzo dei Congressi. Transfer by luxury 8-seater minivan to Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Baptistry for a guided tour of this icon of Florence. Transfer via minivan to where you will be treated to a guided tour. Rejoin your minivan for a sightseeing tour of Florence which culminates in a visit to Opera di Firenze and a private backstage tour led by Opera di Firenze’s technical manager. Your minivan will then return you to Palazzo dei Congressi.

Please take your time to select your top three Tour Group choices and then email them over to Showlight Chairman John Allen once you have registered as a delegate.

Trips are all included in your delegate rate. To register as a delegate for Showlight 2017, click here!

Remember . . .

  • Bring spending money in the form of Euros!
  • Wear shoes suitable for plenty of walking.
  • Tours marked as ‘Coach Trip’ or ‘Mini-van Trip’ are intended for those who may find the walking tours too challenging.
  • Mail your top three Tour Group choices to John Allen as soon as you can as some trips are allocated on a first come, first served basis!