Movies, books, and songs to capture the essence of Florence and get you in the mood for travel

Movies

A Room With a View (1986)
Sumptuous adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel of the same name, exploring the nuances of Victorian romance and the clash of cultures experienced when a group of English tourists visits Florence.

La Vita è Bella (1998)
Oscar-winning film by, and starring, Roberto Benigni, partly set in the glorious countryside around Florence.

Tea With Mussolini (1999)
Written and directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Follows the fortunes of a group of expats living in Florence at the beginning of the Second World War.

Hannibal (2001)
The movie sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, starring Anthony Hopkins, features scenes shot in several Florentine locations, including palaces around the city and the banks of the River Arno.

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
This movie, adapted from Frances Mayes’ best seller detailing an expat writer’s new life in Italy, was shot in various Tuscan locations, including Florence.

Books

The Stones of Florence, by Mary McCarthy (1953)
An intelligent and penetrating account of the contemporary city and its historical context by acclaimed American author Mary McCarthy.

The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall, by Christopher Hibbert (1974)
Ambition, greed, patronage, murder, and intrigue in a gripping account of Florence’s greatest medieval dynasty.

The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, by Benvenuto Cellini (1558–67)
A swashbuckling tale of art, love, and contemporary Renaissance life from one of Florence’s most colorful artists, as compelling as any modern tale of derring-do.

History of Italian Renaissance Art, by Frederick Hartt & David Wilkins (1969)
The best single introduction to the art, culture, and historical roots of the Renaissance.

The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio
These one hundred short stories, first published in the 14th century, are set in plague-racked Florence of 1348. A wonderful social record, but also diverting narratives in their own right.

Music

Compilations:

Cavalleria Rusticana, Pietro Mascagni
This opera by Pietro Mascagni (1863–1945), who was born in Livorno on the Tuscan coast, caused a sensation on its premiere in 1890, ushering in the Verismo (Realism) movement in Italian dramatic music.

Cieli di Toscana, Andrea Bocelli (2001)
Tuscan-born operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli has recorded numerous crossover songs and pieces of music connected with his native Italy. The albums Cieli di Toscana (Tuscan Skies, 2001), Viaggio Italiano (Italian Journey, 1997), and Amore (2006) are three of the best.

Ecco La Primavera, The Early Music Consort of London
British musician and early music historian David Munrow conducted this performance by The Early Music Consort of London, which he co-founded. Beautiful collection of 14th-century and other early Florentine music played on period instruments.

La Bohème, Giacomo Puccini
Composer Puccini (1858–1924) was born in Lucca, an hour from Florence. He composed La Bohème, one of his most popular operas, at Torre del Lago, nearby on the Tuscan coast.

Requiem in C Minor, Luigi Cherubini
The work of Florence-born Luigi Cherubini (1760–1842) is little known today, but was celebrated in his time: Beethoven considered Cherubini the greatest of his contemporaries. This version conducted by Toscanini is performed by the NBC Symphony Orchestra.

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