A Day in the Life of an AHA student

View of Florence duomo and dome, looking upFlorence – Wake up in our hotel, less than two minutes walk from the main cathedral with Brunelleschi’s incredible dome.

9:00 Your group sets off to the Medici Palace, one of the first Renaissance palaces, where you learn about one of the most important families in the history of Florence. We explore the palace and learn about the Medici court, filled with humanists, mathematicians, artists, sculptors, poets and classical scholars. One of the highlights is a private view of the tiny, beautifully-painted family chapel. Then we all grab a quick coffee, the Italian way, in our favourite caffé to refuel – it’s an AHA institution!

The next stop on our walk through Medici history is San Lorenzo, the Medici parish church and the burial place of the major Medici figures. Inside you explore Renaissance architecture in the perfectly-proportioned Old Sacristy of Brunelleschi.

One of our gap year students' favourite views of sunset in FlorenceA short stroll from San Lorenzo is the convent of San Marco, where Cosimo de’Medici came for solitude and prayer. The stunningly peaceful courtyard makes the perfect setting for a discussion on monastic values and the Dominican Order.

We will introduce you to the many works of Fra Angelico that decorate the walls of the convent and the monks’ cells. After peeking into a number of cells to discover which devotional painting awaits inside, you also visit the office of Savonarola, the fiery prior who angered the Borgia Pope and was burnt in the main square of Florence.

12:30 You are free for lunch and independent exploring. The market of San Lorenzo is nearby and a fantastic place to grab a quick, local and delicious lunch.

gap year students sitting on a bridge in Florence with Ponte Vecchio behind

Golden Light on the River Arno in Florence

15:00 Meet back up with your tutor for the afternoon session on “Civic pride and engineering prowess”. We spend the afternoon discussing the religious centre of Florence, including the beautiful Romanesque baptistery, the Cathedral and most importantly, Brunelleschi’s Dome, an incredible feat of engineering. Having analysed the structure, commissioning and building of the dome, the group climbs to the top to admire a spectacular view of the city of Florence and the surrounding hillsides.

17:30 After the afternoon session you are free to relax, rest, explore, draw, read or shop!

19:30 All the groups and tutors come together for a lovely supper at one of our favourite local restaurants.