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An Inferno Tour of Florence

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An Inferno Tour of Florence

An Inferno tour of Florence, Italy

There’s nothing like a good holiday read to transport you into another world whilst you’re away. It’s even better if the novel you’re reading happens to feature some of the sights you’re looking to visit.

Dan Brown’s latest Thriller, Inferno, is set in Florence and takes readers on a journey through the historical streets with detailed passages about architecture, galleries, churches and, as you would expect, a few hidden secrets. One of the historical characters central to the novel is Dante Alighieri, a Florence born poet and literary legend, hence using Tuscany’s beautiful capital as the backdrop.

An ‘Inferno’ Tour of Florence
The novel actually starts at an Italian hospital, not a great place for any holiday to start so we’ll skip straight to the more pleasant sites which are noted by the author.

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, ItalyPalazzo Vecchio Opened in 1299, the Palazzo Vecchio is actually Florence’s Town Hall and overlooks the Piazza della Signoria, a centrally located meeting place for locals and tourists alike. The Piazza is a great place to start a tour from which other places of interest are easily accessed. As with all historic buildings, it has been added to over the centuries so different styles and influences can be felt as visitors move through the vast corridors and rooms. Various rooms are open to the public including a fascinating Map Room which has a collection of maps including a 1563 world map – a fairly different representation to today.

One of the newest parts to be opened is the Tower of Arnolfo. At 95 metres tall visitors will need a head for heights to scale it but can do so from 24th June this year through to the end of September. The opening of this tower coincides with the celebration of St John, Florence’s Patron Saint. In the peak summer months public walks into usually inaccessible areas can be organised by the tourist information centre and there is also a great tour for children with actors dressed in period costumes.

Florence Baptistery
The Florence Baptistery makes other buildings in the city seem modern by comparison. Dating back as far as 1059, the Baptistery is easily recognisable by its octagonal shape and intricate bronze doors which are located on the north, south and east sides of the building. The building is dedicated to Florence’s Patron Saint, John the Baptist and this is where Dante Alighieri was baptised so is a place of significance in the novel.

There’s as much to see within the Baptistery as there is on the exterior with a huge mosaic celling being one of the highlights. It is thought to have taken over two centuries to complete so make sure you take your time to take in the stories that it tells. The Doors of Paradise, on the east side of the Baptistery, are replicas (the originals were moved to preserve them and can be found in the museum of the Duomo's art and sculpture) but they tell the same stories, one on each of the ten panels. Restoration of the original doors has finally been completed after 27 painstaking years!

Casa di Dante
Dante’s house, which is now a museum, is located in the medieval part of the city. Whilst the building has changed significantly over time, Dante’s home is, as you would expect, a commemorative place where visitors can learn about his life and times.

Church of Dante
This place of interest is a must see for romantics and is where Beatrice, Dante’s muse, is buried. It is believed they met at this church, where her family attended mass. She was the object of his desire and was immortalised in the Divine Comedy. Today separated lovers leave messages on Beatrice’s grave.

Church of the Holy Cross
Dante died in exile in Ravenna, despite several appeals to move his body back to Florence, he remains there and whilst this is not Dante’s resting place, a tomb pays homage to his memory and a statue by Enrico Pazzi stands proudly outside.

Michelangelo’s David
A trip to Florence wouldn’t be complete without seeing some of Michelangelo’s work and probably his greatest, and naturally one of the most popular tourist attractions, is his David. The statue stands at an impressive 4.5 metres tall and took over three years to complete and today can be found at the Academy Gallery. For those not willing to brave the queues, a replica can be seen in its original location – the Piazza della Signoria.

Uffizi Gallery, Florence, ItalyUffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is often the first port of call for tourists and therefore had to be mentioned in the novel. No trip to Florence is complete without taking a day to stroll through the many rooms which transport visitors on an artistic tour of Italy’s history. The Gallery hosts works of art from all of the greats you would expect to find including Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. It has in fact got so many pieces of art that some have been distributed to other galleries throughout the city. It is said that Dan Brown studied the gallery's floorplans when researching his novel, although little detail is in the script so it was most likely a red herring to throw interested parties off the scent of his latest literary masterpiece.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, ItalyPonte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio is Florence’s first and only surviving medieval bridge and provides a link between the north and south of the city. The bridge is lined with expensive jewellery shops which are preferable to the 16th century bridge traders, the butchers. After selling their wares they would throw their rubbish into the river. Naturally the smells and sights blighted the otherwise beautiful outlook and upset the Medici family who used this bridge to move between Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, without mingling with the commoners. Ponte Vecchio today is a great place to pause for photographs, providing great views along the Arno River.

Dan’s Brown novel doesn’t ooze about the flavours of authentic Italian ice cream or pour over the perfection of a slice of Italian pizza (our guides can heartily recommend Pizzeria Dante in the Oltrarno district) but we do recommend indulging in both of these activities as you make your way around this beautiful Italian city and on the banks of the Arno River seems as good a place as any to enjoy either or both!

Guided Tour
Abercrombie & Kent can organise a full day guided ‘Introduction to Florence’ Tour. This would incorporate all of the sights above. Simply ask a Travel Consultant (call 0845 618 2205 or enquire online) or speak to your Villa Host to make the necessary arrangements.

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