Florence 18

Florence Episode 18 History and Travel Writing

What historians and travellers made of Florence

First, a brief account of several history books which give a useful insight into Florence and then some glimpses into the many different writings of those – famous and not-so-famous – who have travelled to Florence and then written about it. After a selection of quotes from travellers through the ages, the focus moves to three books of travel-writing on Florence. Mary McCarthy’s ‘The Stones of Florence’, erudite and beautifully written, David Leavitt’s ‘Florence: a Delicate Case’, with its entertaining asides, such as a description of Santa Maria Novella as ‘a handsome testament to Fascist atavism’ and Diana Athill’s ‘A Florence Diary’ which has all the breathless exuberance of a young woman on her first foray abroad in 1947.