Fictional Florence…

I don’t know about you but whenever I go abroad I like to try and read books that are either set in the place that I am visiting or that have been written by someone from there. I think in part it makes the book come alive even more and weirdly in my head makes me feel I know the place even better, the latter is probably just in my head if we are all honest isn’t it? Anyway in the next few weeks I will be going to Florence, a city I have never been to before though always wanted to. So I wondered if any of you might have any recommendations of books set there or written by someone from there.

I don’t mind what genre it is, how long or short it is, if it is contemporary and modern or if it is historical. Actually, that said I wouldn’t mind something with a bit of the history of the place to it, or indeed if you know of any crime novels with a Florence setting. Really though I am open to ideas and will quite possibly be taking a few as The Beard and I will be reviewing a hotel, spa and cookery school on the Fiesole hillside called Il Salviatino, and with an air journey each way and a few days of relaxing much reading will be done. We already have a travel guide by the bedside so really it is just fictional stuff we are after.

Oh actually, thinking about it, we are doing a day’s cooking class whilst there so something with lots of Italian food set in Florence, with a murder possibly in the cities historical past might be nice. Not that I am being specific am I? Ha, ha. No honestly any fictional Florence recommendations are most, most welcome.

42 Comments

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42 responses to “Fictional Florence…

  1. Irving Stone’s The Agony and The Ecstasy is a fictional biography of Michelangelo. It’s a beautifully written book and I read it just before visiting Italy when I was a student and it really enhanced my experiences there.

  2. Ditto Agony and the Ecstasy – I loved it so much as a child I did a re-enactment of Michelangelo’s walks around Florence as described in the book.
    OK, the next couple of recommendations are a bit obvious, but… E.M.Forster ‘Room with a View’, Somerset Maugham ‘Up at the Villa’, Sarah Dunant ‘The Birth of Venus’ and Michael Dibdin ‘A Rich Full Death’ (not an Inspector Zen novel, but about Robert Browning)

    • Well that is two votes from people I trust so I will have to look that one up for definate. I have read ‘Up at the Villa’ but wish I hadn’t as I loved it and that would have been a great place to have read it.

      My Mum said Sarah Dunant!

  3. Oh and enjoy your time in Florence – it is one of the loveliest places in the world (if you can escape the crowds)!

    • We will be up in the hills I don’t think we will go to the city too much as we have infinity pools and the likes its seriously going to be a huge relaxing long weekend.

  4. Joan Kyler

    Magdalen Nabb’s mysteries are set in Florence, as are mysteries by Lucretia Grindle, Marco Vichi, and Cristobel Kent. You might try some of those. Bon voyage!

  5. mee

    I’m actually going to Florence too (me in September) and looking for a book to read before that. I’m leaning very heavily towards Rushdie’s the Enchantress of Florence right now.

  6. gaskella

    The latest Marco Vichi is partially set in Fiesole (which has a wonderful little museum and Roman amphitheatre). I loved the city, and would like to go back and book a tour of the Vasari corridor. Get to the Uffizi at opening time, so you can dash to the Botticelli room and see Venus and Primavera in all their huge glory without other bodies in the way. You can easily do too much art though – I saw enough Madonnas and Annunciations to last a couple of years.🙂 Have a great time.

  7. A Room With a View is the classic English language novel about Florence, and it does justice to a foreigner’s impressions of the city. You will love it! Definitely one my top 5 places to visit. Every time I go, I find something new to love. Enjoy your time!!

  8. Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King! I read this book while I was in Florence, and it was really a great way to get some perspective on the city and one of its most famous structures. I think it was actually nonfiction, but it read like fiction. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s got history and art, but it’s also just truly fascinating and gives you an excellent picture of how Florence evolved.

    I’ve been to Florence three different times, and it’s definitely one of my favorite places. If you have a day, go up to Cortona, which is in the hills. Teeny tiny city with amazing views. Most of all, enjoy!

    • I don’t mind narrative non fiction, the less like a text book the better, so that could work especially as it is about the buildings of the city and that will have a nice historical twist naturally. Great recommendation, will see how easy it is to get.

  9. I’m glad you’re going to Fiesole, it’s such a lovely haven from the crowded streets of Florence. When I went a couple of years ago there was only one other group of people in the amphitheatre with us AND they has an amazing bronze sculpture installation.

    I did put together a list of Florentine books but I never got round to reading any of them so can’t recommend. Hope you have a lovely time.

    • Nice to hear from someone who has been, and who I trust, who has been to the area. I like the idea of visiting Florence for a day but I am hoping that we will have more relaxation time than anything. Some people will think thats bonkers with all the culture but I am excited about resting.

      Do you still have the list?

  10. Sarah

    Florence is one of the most beautiful places in the world – you will have a fabulous time! Although it’s not fiction, ‘The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance’ by Paul Strathern reads like fiction (all those things the Medici got up to – gosh!) and provides a brilliant historical background to the city. It’s definitely a must-read.

  11. I haven’t got a book to recommend but I remember going to Florence as a child and loving it, even though I was otherwise too young to appreciate being dragged round lovely-looking cities I still remember Florence. Tuscany as a whole is beautiful. Enjoy your holiday!

  12. Amy C

    The book that came to mind is “Romola” by George Eliot – written in the 19th century, but setting is 15th century Florence. It’s a good read but quite long and dense, not a light summer read for sure. But I have always wanted to go to Florence, I’m jealous!!

    • Ooh a classic, I am now wondering what other classics are set in Florence there must be a few surely, hmmm. I will have to do some hunting. I am slightly scared of George Elliott!

  13. novelinsights

    Am very jealous. I went when I was 16 and it was beautiful. I can only think of Hannibal which is partially set in Florence (a bit of a gruesome one!) Otherwise suggest you read something about the Medici’s or the Borgia families – lots of intrigue. xx

    • Ooh I like gruesome. I cant remember if I have already read Hannibal or if it is Red Dragon which I have read. I would have said the latter, as you know I have to read a series in order, but I remember Italy in one… mind you I haven’t read any of those books since before my twenties – years ago!!

  14. Orla

    I second The Birth of Venus – loved, loved, loved it! Have a great trip!

  15. Geraldine

    Florence is a beautiful city and after my visit I read A Time of Mourning by Christobel Kent which is crime fiction and enjoyed it a lot.

  16. Here here on The Enchantress of Florence🙂 One of the best books Daddy Relish ‘has ever read in his life’. Apparently.

    • Well that is indeed a recommendation. I have it somewhere I will have to locate it and dip in. I like Rushdie but I always get fearful at the start of his books that it will be too grown up for me. Ha!

  17. Well, the only books I’ve read that involve Florence are by Dante, but that might be a tad on the absorbing side for a holiday. If it helps, his book ‘La Vita Nuova’ is quite short.

  18. I cast my vote with A Room with a View. I’ve been to both Florence and Rome and love the book’s ability to transport me back to those cities. They are timeless in a way, being so full of history. It’s almost as if those cities are frozen. So, what the characters see in the 1908 book may actually still be in the cities today which is fun.

  19. Oh, I loved Florence. Best holiday ever. I can’t think of any books set there but I can recommend some great restaurants. Rachel’s, next door to the giant synagogue, was amazing and (necessary for me) not at all rich food. And my boyfriend Tim still salivates (a mere three years later) over the bistecca fiorentina (giant steak) at All’Antico Ristoro Di’Cambi on Via S. Onofrio.

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