Of all Italian cities, Florence has always had the strongest English accent: the Goncourt brothers in 1855 called it ‘ville tout anglaise‘. Though that accent is diminished now, Florence remains for the English-speaking traveller what it always has been – one of the best loved, and most visited, of cities.
In this Traveller’s Reader, Florence’s rich and glorious past is brought vividly to life for the tourist of today through the medium of letters, diaries and memoirs of travellers to Florence from past centuries and of the Florentines themselves. The extracts chosen by cultural historain Edward Chaney include: Boccaccio on the Black Death; Vasari on the building of Giotto’s Campanile; an eye-witness account of the installation of Michaelangelo’s ‘David’; the death of Elizabeth Barrett Browning at the Casa Guidi; and D. H. Lawrence and Dylan Thomas on twentieth-century Florentine society.
Sir Harold Acton’s introduction provides a concise history of the city from its origins, through its zenith as a prosperous city state which, under the Medici, gave birth to the Renaissance, and up to the Arno’s devastating flood in 1966. Sir Harold Acton, man of letters, historian, aesthete, novelist and poet, spent most of his life in Florence. Among his best-known books is The Last Medici, Memoirs of an Aesthete.
Currently Professor of Fine and Decorative Arts at Southampton Solent University, Edward Chaney is an honorary life member of the British Institute of Florence and taught at the University of Pisa for six years.