We can’t put it any better than American author Dan Brown when, in his new book Inferno, he captures both the charm and intrigue of Florence. Sequel to
In the book, Professor Robert Langdon is investigating a threat hidden in the painting The Abyss of Hell by Botticelli. Without spoiling the plot, we will guide you to the sites visited by Langdon, offering an alternative and exciting way to experience Florence.
The Boboli Gardens
Professor Langdon wakes up in Florence, Italy. He is on the run, his life in danger. In order to reach the ancient city center, he hides in the Boboli Gardens, hoping he can exit from the main entrance as he hides among the throng of tourists.
Even with his life threatened, Langdon is awed by the sight of one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. He runs down shady avenues, through the Amphitheatre, around Neptune’s pond and the flowering area finally taking refuge in Buontalenti’s Grotto, a unique masterpiece that combines architecture, painting and sculpture. The grotto was the site of the secret meetings between Francesco I de’ Medici and Bianca Cappello (the third room is racily decorated with explicit erotic references).
The Boboli Gardens and Palazzo Pitti, which includes the Palatine Gallery, is the noblest part of the Oltrarno district. The Palace also houses the Costume Gallery, a rich collection of garments worn by nobility plus a variety of theatrical costumes depicting the evolution of Italian fashion.
Escape through the Vasari Corridor
The Vasari Corridor is Robert Langdon’s escape route in Inferno. This secret path was built by Cosimo de’ Medici connecting the Palazzo Vecchio and the family residence at the Pitti Palace. Langdon, an art lover, remembers the passage from a previous visit to the city. It’s an extraordinary architectural gem that stretches nearly one kilometer over the Arno River, entering directly into the Uffizi Gallery and ending at Palazzo Vecchio. The Palazzo is still the seat of government, and it is here that Langdon hopes to find his answers!
Open only to small groups, a tour of the Vasari Corridor is the most exclusive cultural experience of Florence. Guests who pass through the Corridor experience life as it was centuries ago amidst an extraordinary number of works of art and secret views of the city. The tour includes a visit to the curious balcony of the Church of Santa Felicita, from which the Medici used to attend mass. Even more exclusive is the VIP Vasari Corridor Experience. If you book this tour, the Uffizi will be almost entirely yours in the early morning. Enjoy a delicious breakfast on the terrace of the museum overlooking Piazza della Signoria before you enter the magic of the Corridor!
Clues at Palazzo Vecchio
Langdon searches for an essential clue at the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred). This majestic chamber within the Palazzo Vecchio was home to the Maggior Consiglio of Florence. During his adventure inside the austere building, the professor admires the precious Studiolo of Francesco I, Bianca Cappello’s Secret Dressing Room (from which she could watch the meetings of the rulers of the city), and the imposing globe Mappa mundi. The terrible secret Langdon uncovers here forces him to flee again through another of the Secret Passages of the Medici family – this time, through one that passes over to the trusses of the Salone dei Cinquecento itself. You can experience Langdon’s adventure yourself with the Visit to the Secret Passages tour, which also explores the apartments of the family, Francesco’s Sala del Tesoretto (little treasure), and the small hidden door of the Duke of Athens. It is through this door that Langdon exits directly onto Via della Ninna, the narrow street that separates the building from the Uffizi Gallery.
The Paradise at the Baptistery
Another Inferno highlight takes place inside Saint John’s Baptistery in the Piazza del Duomo, where Langdon looks for the key to decipher the mystery. It’s no coincidence that Dan Brown wanted to set such an important part of his story at the Baptistery, as it is one of the most important beauties of Florence.
Unfortunately, many visitors do not sense its grandeur from the outside, because the imposing facade of the Duomo and the Dome of Brunelleschi overshadows it. However, if you cross the Gates of Paradise of the Baptistery (just as Langdon did in Inferno) you will be struck by its splendor. The golden mosaics on the roof represent Heaven and Hell in levels, just as Dante (who was baptized right here) describes them in the Divine Comedy. The Baptistery housed the original Gates of Paradise, as named by Michelangelo for their masterful beauty, and you can now admire them newly restored in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
Following these suggestions you can relive the adventure of Professor Langdon step by step. Or you can do some investigating of your own to uncover some of Dante’s mysteries in Florence. In either case, you’ll definitely be interested in the Inferno Tour of Florence, also available in stunning Full Day option.