September 2, 2014

The Uffizi Gallery, Florence

I have always had an interest in art, and love getting my kids into it as well, and we often visit galleries together or attend workshops together. But over the years, one of the best ways I have found for getting my kids excited about art is to take them right to the source of inspiration for the artists themselves. Being immersed in the culture and stunning surrounds of cities such as Paris, Florence and Barcelona can't help but spark their imaginations. So why not pile everyone into the car, hop over the Channel with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, and discover some of Europe's greatest masterpieces - head to Italy where you can explore the heartland of the Renaissance movement.


The first port of call on your art movement tour of the Renaissance masters ought to be Milan. Effortlessly chic and stylish, attracting a cultured, sophisticated crowd, Milan is definitely a place to be seen. And, what's more, it is also home to Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper . Housed within the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, it is advisable to book tickets to see The Last Supper well in advance, as it is one of Milan's most popular tourist sites.

The Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan


In the centre of Padua, you will find the imposing Basilica di Sant'Antonio, which is jam-packed with Renaissance treasures, both inside and out. Inside the Cappella del Santo, just to the right of the main church, the interiors have been decorated with nine panels featuring beautiful relief sculptures by the Lombardo brothers, dating back to 1510. The most impressive work, however, was done by Renaissance master, Donatello. A particular point of interest is his bronze sculpture, The Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata , which is widely considered the artist's most masterful piece.

 Renaissance-Gattamelata image
The Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata, Padua


A short drive from Padua will land you in Bologna. The city is probably best known for its delicious pasta dish, but you will also find some delectable cultural treats to get your teeth into besides. If you head to the Basilica di San Domenico, you can see one of Michelangelo's early works in the form of a beautiful marble angel, carved when he was just 19 years old. The church also played host to Mozart, who spent a month in the city during his youth, studying at a music academy and practising on the church's organ.

 Renaissance-Domenico image
The Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna


The final leg of my short tour of Renaissance Italy will take you to Florence, a veritable hotbed of artistic prowess and culture. It is difficult to know where to start in this city, but a safe bet is by joining the ever-present queue outside the Galleria dell'Accademia to see Michelangelo's most celebrated masterpiece, The David . A stroll into the centre of Florence will bring you outside the Duomo, where you can see The Gates of Paradise , which are the eastern doors created by another Renaissance master, Ghiberti. And finally, a visit to the impressive Uffizi Gallery will make for the cherry on top of your Renaissance tour, as the walls are positively littered with some of the finest works of art ever produced. One piece that is definitely not to be missed has to be Botticelli's Birth of Venus , a personal favourite of mine.

Driving the Renaissance route with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Getting to the continent is easy with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. It takes just 35 minutes to cross the Channel, and with services running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you are guaranteed to find a time to travel that will fit seamlessly with your holiday plans. The initial drive to Italy through France is quite a stretch at 10.5 hours, so you may want to consider doing it in stages, or at least sharing the journey.

Once you've made it down to Milan, you will find the Italian roads easy to navigate. The Milan to Padua stretch will take a little over two and a half hours along the A4, past Lake Garda and Verona, which both make lovely pit stops. From Padua to Bologna, the drive is less than 90 minutes and very straightforward down the A13, and it is a further hour and a half on to Florence on the A1. Buone vacanze!

Photo Credits:
Convent of Santa Maria © Davide Oliva
Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata © RRodney
Basilica di San Domenico © Allan Parsons
Uffizi Gallery © John Menard

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