If you were an avid follower of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, chances are you’re well on your literary way through Inferno, the latest instalment in Professor Robert Langdon’s European symbolist-infused exploits. Fresh from weaving a rather fraught journey through Rome and Paris, in his third outing, Professor Langdon finds himself in the Tuscan capital, Florence, birthplace of Dante and home to a wealth of amazing art and architecture by a veritable who’s who of Italian Renaissance Masters. Paying a modern-day homage (of sorts) to Dante’s Divine Comedy, Dan Brown’s Inferno is putting Florence firmly back on the touristic trail, with visitor numbers reportedly up five percent during the first quarter of 2013.
Taking centre stage in the novel are some of Florence’s finest architectural and historical gems. These include the Palazzo Vecchio, dominating the Piazza della Signoria and seat of the Florentine government; the unmissable Uffizi Gallery, housing a prestigious collection of Renaissance art bequeathed to the city by the Medici family including works by Giotto, Botticelli, Titian, Caravaggio and Da Vinci; the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, whose mighty red-tiled Duomo dominates Florence’s skyline; the Baptistery, one of the oldest buildings in Florence; the beautiful 16th-century Boboli Gardens; and the Vasari Corridor, a secret 1km passageway spanning the River Arno connecting some of the city’s aforementioned must-sees.
And yet, it’s not just Inferno that’s brought this Renaissance city to life. A Room with a View, Tea with Mussolini, Hannibal and The Portrait of a Lady all allow Florence and its star attractions to shine on the silver screen. Perhaps a spot of pre-departure cinematic and literary research is required to truly whet your appetite for a memorable few days away in this most magical of Italian cities.