Episode 18: Florence History And Travel Writing

Florence - Photo by Nicola Pavan on Unsplash

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.


More information about Florence coming soon.

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Links & Reading

3 useful websites for tourists
Feel Florence
Visit Florence 
Destination Florence

4 guidebooks on Florence
Pocket Rough Guide to Florence 
Time Out Florence City Guide
Blue Guide Florence by Alta Macadam
Strolling through Florence by Mario Erasmo

2 more guidebooks on Florence and Tuscany
Lonely Planet Guide to Florence and Tuscany 
Eyewitness Travel Guide to Florence and Tuscany by Christopher Catling

3 history books and a guide to art and architecture
Florence, the Biography of a City by Christopher Hibbert
The Medici by Paul Strathern
The Medici by Mary Hollingsworth
Art and Architecture in Florence by Rolf C Wirtz

3 anthologies
Florence: A Traveller’s Reader by Edward Cheney
Florence Stories Everyman’s Library Pocket Classics
A Literary Companion to Florence by Frances King

2 memoirs of Florence
Florence: A Delicate Case by David Leavitt
A Florence Diary by Diana Athill

4 novels set in Florence
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone (Biographical novel about Michelangelo)
A Room with a View by E M Forster
Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel