February 2018 Florence Program – Special Treasures of Tuscany X: Donatello & Brunelleschi: “A Renaissance of Inspiration and Competition”

Programs in Italy

February 15, 2018

 -  February 20, 2018

Preliminary Itinerary

(as of October 2017)
The 2018 Program will explore the world of Donatello and Brunelleschi
Payment for direct program costs in the amount of $3,800 per person and a per-person tax-deductible contribution of $2,000 are required to register.
Our primary historians will be Dr. Bill Cook and Dr. Ross King. 
A block of rooms at a discounted rate is available at The Westin Excelsior (Piazza Ognissanti, 3; 50123 Firenze), our daily starting point while in Florence. See below for more information on rates and how to make a reservation. Please make your hotel reservations for the days we are in Florence. 

Thursday, February 15th

5:30PM – Welcome  meeting at The Westin Excelsior, followed by lectures by Dr. Bill Cook and Dr. Ross King.
Dinner at an historic site in Florence.

Friday, February 16th

Morning visit to the Ospedale degli Innocenti,  the Cathedral Complex  where we can pay homage to Brunelleschi and Donatello. We shall also climb the Dome with Ross King.
Luncheon in a Florentine Trattoria
Visit to the Cathedral Museum to explore masterpieces by Donatello and the archectural creations of Brunelleschi
Cocktails and Dinner in a Palace in Florence

Saturday, February 17th

Visit to the Bargello Museum, to the Church of San Lorenzo with the Old Sacristy,  and to the Church of Santo Spirito with viewings of various restorations by Friends of Florence. Lunch will be enjoyed during the itinerary for the day.
Dinner in Florence in a casual historic trattoria

 Sunday, February 18th

       Our day will include visits to the nearby cities of  Prato and Pistoia
       to view special works by Donatello and other artists with luncheon
       during the day.
       Dinner in an historic venue

Monday, February 19th

Morning visit to  Santa Croce to view masterpieces by both Donatello and Brunelleschi.
Luncheon in Florence at the private Circolo dell’Unione
Private visit to the Uffizi Gallery to view recently restored Friends of Florence projects and works.
Farewell Dinner in a private palace.

Tuesday, February 20th


Hotel Reservations

Friends of Florence has negotiated special room rates for Program attendees. A block of rooms at discounted rates will be available at The Westin Excelsior (Piazza Ognissanti, 3; 50123 Firenze). The options are listed below.
At the Westin Excelsior, the single occupancy room rate is Euro 260.00 + 10% VAT per night and the double occupancy room rate is Euro 285.00 + 10% VAT.
Arno River view rooms will be available for an additional Euro 60.00 + 10% VAT per room per night.
Premium Deluxe category rooms are available for an additional Euro 40.00 + 10% VAT per room per night.
Rates are per room, per night, inclusive of breakfast. Rates do not include the 10% VAT nor the city tax of Euro 5.00 per person, per day.
Check in time is after 2.00 p.m. and check out time is at 12.00 p.m. Later departure or earlier check in can be arranged subject to a charge. Hotel deposit and cancelation policies are below.
A 1-night deposit is required at time of booking and is not refundable.
Per Hotel policy, in case of total or partial cancellation, you will be held responsible for the following cancellation fee:
From time of booking up to 30 days prior to arrival: the reservation may be totally
cancelled without penalty, with the exception of the retention by the Hotel of the non-refundable deposit;
29-0 days prior to arrival: the whole cost of the reservation will result in a penalty fee equivalent to 100% of the Group’s total estimated expenditure;
No shows: will be charged the whole cost of the reservation (rooms).
Reduction of stay: will be charged the whole cost of the reservation (rooms).
How to Reserve your Hotel Room:
You must contact Sandra Bagni at Sandra Bagni Sandra.Bagni@marriott.com and mention the “Friends of Florence February 2018 Program” to receive the discounted rate.
Room reservations must be made by December 15th 2017 to receive the special Friends of Florence rate.

Program Historian Biographies


Dr. William Cook

Until recently Dr. William R. Cook was the Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he taught since 1970. He earned his bachelor’s degree cum laude from Wabash College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was then awarded Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Lehman fellowships to study medieval history at Cornell University, where he earned his Ph.D.
Professor Cook has taught courses in ancient and medieval history, the Renaissance and Reformation periods, and the Bible and Christian thought. Since 1983 Professor Cook has directed 11 Seminars for School Teachers for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
His books include The Medieval World View, Images of St. Francis of Assisi and Francis of Assisi: The Way of Poverty and Humility. Dr. Cook contributed to the Cambridge Companion to Giotto and edits and contributes to The Art of the Franciscan Order, in Italy.
Among his many awards, Professor Cook has received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1992, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education named him New York State’s Professor of the Year. In 2003 he received the first-ever CARA Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Medieval Studies from the Medieval Academy of America.
Dr. Cook has produced several Great Courses for the Teaching Company that can be seen and heard on DVD and CDs on Dante’s Divine Comedy, on Saint Francis of Assisi, on Machiavelli, on Great Christians, The Cathedral, and his latest work, The World’s Greatest Churches.
Dr. Cook is a member of the Academic Advisory Board for Friends of Florence. He has led numerous programs for YPO and WPO members over many years.
Dr. Cook recently founded the Bill Cook Foundation, a 501(c)(3) U.S. based non-profit, that provides urgent support to needy children and young adults around the world in the form of financial aid and in-kind assistance for education, housing, medical care, and basic needs.

Dr. Ross King

Dr. Ross King is the bestselling author of five books on Italian, French, and Canadian art and history. He has also published two historical novels, Domino (1995) and Ex-Libris (1998), and edited a collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s fables, jokes and riddles. Translated into more than a dozen languages, his books have been nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Award, the Charles Taylor Prize, and the National Award for Arts Writing. He has won both the Governor General’s Award in Canada (for The Judgment of Paris) and the BookSense Non-Fiction Book of the Year in the United States (for Brunelleschi’s Dome).

In October 2012, his book, Leonardo and the Last Supper was published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.

Born and raised in Canada, Dr. King has lived in England since moving to London for post-doctoral studies in 1992. He has lectured widely in both Europe and North America, including at events at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian, the Aspen Institute, and the Frick Collection. He has also given lectures and guided tours in Florence, Rome, Paris, and Giverny. He lives near Oxford with his wife Melanie, also a writer and historian.

Dr. King is a member of Friends of Florence’s Academic Advisory Board.
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