Inferno Florence Itinerary

a guest-post by Alexandra M. Korey Florence is not just a backdrop but a protagonist of Dan Brown’s latest book, Inferno, as Robert Langdon and Sienna Brooks dash throughout the city trying to solve clues in a race against time. From the banks of the Arno to the attics of Palazzo Vecchio, from the Baptistery of San Giovanni to the Loggia dei Lanzi in piazza della Signoria, the book’s protagonists take readers through the city, with a running commentary by Langdon on the history, art and curiosities around them. Follow in his footsteps with this Inferno Florence Itinerary.   ARNO
[Photo Credits: Leila Firusbakht Tuscany Social Media Team]
[Photo Credits: Leila Firusbakht Tuscany Social Media Team]
Start on the banks of the river Arno, where the book kicks off. Zobrist “scramble[d], breathless… along the banks of the river” (p. 5), but you will be able to take in the sight more peacefully. The Arno river has been central to the history of Florence, bringing trade and business to the city as well as occasional natural disasters. There are six bridges over the river in the historic centre of Florence, five of which were blown up by the Nazis during World War II to halt the Allies’ advance. The Ponte Vecchio, built in 1345, was the only one to survive.   PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORIA
[Photo Credits: Giuseppe Moscato]
[Photo Credits: Giuseppe Moscato]
From here, head to piazza della Signoria, which “despite its overabundance of phalluses, had always been one of [Langdon’s] favorite plazas in all of Europe” (p. 146). The piazza also played an important role in the Ancient Roman town of Florentia, surrounded by a theatre and baths. A church, a loggia and an enormous fifth-century basilica were unearthed beneath the square when it was repaved in the 1980s. Remains of a Neolithic site were also found. Piazza della Signoria began to take shape in 1268, when Ghibelline houses were torn down by the victorious Guelphs. In 1385, it was paved for the first time. In 1497, Girolamo Savonarola and his followers burnt towering piles of books, among other things, as part of the “Bonfire of the Vanities”. In front of the fountain of Neptune, a marble plaque marks the exact spot where Girolamo Savonarola was hanged and burned on May 23, 1498.   BARGELLO
[Photo Credits: Giuseppe Moscato]
[Photo Credits: Giuseppe Moscato]
From piazza della Signoria, head west to piazza San Firenze and the Bargello Museum. If you get here early enough you may be able to smell “lampredotto and roasted olives” (p. 5) and hear the shouts of the square's vocal early-rising traders. In 1574, what is now the Bargello Museum became the headquarters of Florence's police chief, the bargello. It was put to use as a prison and executions took place in the central courtyard until as late as 1786. The building opened as a national museum in 1865, and has been home to an array of important Renaissance sculptures ever since, including masterpieces by Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Verrocchio, Michelangelo and Cellini.   CASA DI DANTE
[Photo Credits: SebastienBeun]
[Photo Credits: SebastienBeun]
Now make your way to the Casa di Dante on Via Santa Margherita. As Dan Brown helpfully informs us, it is “easily identified by the large banner suspended from the stone facade partway up the alleyway: MUSEO CASA DI DANTE.” (p. 220). Dante himself wrote that he had been born in the shadows of the Badia Fiorentina, in the parish of San Martino, although it is not known for certain whether the building that is now home to the Museo Casa di Dante was Dante’s exact birthplace.   PIAZZA DUOMO
[Photo Credits: Emilio J Santacoloma]
[Photo Credits: Emilio J Santacoloma]
Now it’s time for the final stop in this Inferno tour of Florence, the great Piazza del Duomo. “This enormous plaza with its complex network of structures was the ancient religious center of Florence”, although it is “more of a tourist center nowadays” (p. 213). The earliest structure on this square is the Baptistery, which dates to the 11th century and is in the architectural style called Romanesque. The mosaics inside are the only exemplar of this technique in Florence and are stylistically influenced by Byzantine art. The Duomo was begun in the 13th century, the Dome by Brunelleschi was begun in 1420, and the façade is 19th century. The Bell-tower stands to one side of the church and was designed by Giotto in the 1330s in the same style as the Duomo.   Inferno Florence Guide – the app! Do you want to explore more places mentioned in Dan Brown’s Inferno? The editors of The Florentine, the city’s longest running English-language news magazine, which even received a mentionon the pages of Inferno, have created an app for iPhone and Android to take your knowledge of the city’s sights further. Learn more about 31 buildings, streets and gardens around the city which are mentioned in Inferno, finding out more accurate and interesting information for each of the book’s important locations from local experts. Find the app and more information on the official website: http://www.theflorentine.net/infernoguide/