In 2013, shortly after the release of Dan Brown's novel, Inferno, I visited Florence. Can't remember anymore if I read the novel before or after visiting the city, but now, that the film, based on the novel, as been released, occurred to me that could be a good idea to have a post on the main Florence locations of the movie.
Some of you may be fans of Brown’s Robert Langdon series, and have read the book and probably already seen the movie. For those less familiar with the story, let me give you a brief synopsis of the plot (no spoilers involved). Robert Langdon (played in the movie by Tom Hanks) is a symbology professor at Harvard that follows a trail of clues tied to the great medieval poet Dante. In the beginning of the film, Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with no recollection of what has happened in the last few days. Than, he teams up with Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), a doctor he hopes will help him recover his memories. Langdon's knowledge of Dante's work, history, and hidden passages in Florence allows the two to follow clues such as letters and phrases which lead to various locations in Florence, Venice and Istanbul, in order to prevent a deadly global plot.
The first images of Florence are of the tower of the Badìa Fiorentina, wherefrom one of the characters (Bertrand Zobrist) falls. This abbey and church is situated on the Via del Proconsolo in the centre of Florence. Dante supposedly grew up across the street in what is now called the 'Casa di Dante', rebuilt in 1910 as a museum to Dante.
Zobrist left an encrypted set of clues that Langdon and Sienna follow across Florence at the same time they try to escape from their pursuers. Following their steps you can start your Florence Inferno Movie Tour at Porta Romana. Porta Romana, is the main entry point into medieval Florence, and is the largest and best preserved gate in the 13th-century city walls of Florence. You can find it on the left bank of the Arno river and admire the original iron doors and a marble slab with the Medici coat of arms.
As its impossible to cross the gate, Langdon and Sienna decide to walk across the nearby Boboli Gardens to try to reach the city center. The Boboli Gardens are located behind the Pitti Palace, the residence of the grand dukes of Tuscany for nearly four centuries, and you can make a combined visit. But don't be mistaken, these beautiful gardens are immense and a true open-air museum in itself. The park hosts centuries-old oak trees, sculptures, fountains and ponds, and its meadows, canopied wooded paths, and small groves of trees offer the visitant a welcomed shelter from the hot Florentine sun in summer.
You should take your time strolling through the gardens, which are a fine example of formal 16th-century Italian gardens, before reaching the Grotta del Buontalenti. This grotto, built by Bernardo Buontalenti for Francesco I de'Medici at the end of the 16th century, is a masterpiece of Mannerist architecture. Decorated internally and externally with stalactites and originally equipped with waterworks and luxuriant vegetation, the Large Grotto is divided into three sections.To the left of the Grotta del Buontalenti, where the protagonists hide for a while, runs the Vasari Corridor, which Langdon and Sienna take to reach the Palazzo Vecchio.
The Vasari Corridor is a kilometer long passageway that connects the Uffizi Gallery to the Pitti Palace. It was built to the design of Giorgio Vasari and meant to allow the Medici Grand Dukes to move safely from their private residence at Palazzo Pitti to the seat of government in Palazzo Vecchio. Today, the corridor still connects the two buildings but it is set up as a small museum separate from the famous Uffizi Gallery. The Vasari Corridor is currently closed to the general public and it can be only visited upon reservation on a guided tour. The Corridor houses some 700 works of art, of which 500 are self-portraits, by masters including Raphael, Rembrandt, Titian, Rubens, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Antonio Canova.
Following our protagonists you can continue your Florence Inferno Movie Tour, visiting Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s fourteenth century town hall, overlooking Piazza della Signoria. Most of the action happens in the imposing Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred) that was built from 1494 during the Republic of Fra’ (friar) Girolamo Savonarola. The Hall is the largest and most important room in terms of artistic and historical value inside the palace. The Vasari’s large fresco The Battle of Marciano, painted in 1565 for Cosimo I de’ Medici depicts an important battle in the history of the Medici family, fought in 1554, which led to the conquest of the city of Siena. The fresco contains an important clue that Langdon and Sienna will follow.
The found clues lead the protagonists to the world-famous Piazza del Duomo and to the Florence Baptistry, where Langdon and Sienna find the Dante mask along with a riddle that will take them elsewhere in their adventurous pursuit. Piazza del Duomo is where you can find some of Florence’s most famous landmarks, including the Cathedral with the Cupola del Brunelleschi, Giotto's Campanile, and the Baptistery.
This is a interesting tour to some of the big landmarks of the city, but Florence is so much more that your adventures should not stop here. Walk around, visit the places everyone does but don't forget to walk the less beaten path too, for the city still has many hidden gems.