Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dan Brown's Inferno in Florence and Venice - Illustrated

You know that feeling when you've just read a splendid book based on a city you are about to visit so any place that's not featured in the book is simply not visit worthy ?! That was us in Florence and Venice and I'm only glad that Dan Brown included David and St. Mark's Cathedral in his book!

Well if you haven't read Inferno by Dan Brown yet, that time is this holiday season! Florence and Venice truly appeared in a different light more charming, mysterious and just plain cooler than what these cities already were.

Following (most of) Robert Landgon's footsteps and places that he mentions in the book Inferno, here is Inferno Illustrated in Florence and Venice accompanied  by excerpts from the book. 


Statue of Dante Alighieri

"…here is a statue from Piazza di Santa Croce…"

Il Duomo

At the heart of the skyline, a mountainous dome of red tiles rose up, its zenith adorned with a gilt copper ball that glinted like a beacon. Il Duomo."

Langdon advanced slides to the iconic fresco by Michelino, which showed Dante standing outside the walls of Florence clutching a copy of The Divine Comedy. In the background, the terraced mountain of purgatory rose high above the gates of the hell. The painting now hung in Florence's Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore - better known as Il Duomo." 


Porta Romana

Sienna pointed three hundred yards ahead to the Porta Romana - the ancient stone gateway that served as the entrance to Old Florence. "Robert we've got a problem."

Boboli Gardens

.. toward the garden's main thoroughfare - the Viottolone.. The Viottolone was as wide as a two-lane road and line by a row of slender, four-hundred old Cypress trees.

"Which is why w're taking the tunnel beside it"- a tunnel running parallel with the Viottolone. It was enclosed on either side by a phalanx of prune hold oaks, which had been carefully trained to arch inward over the path, intertwining overhead and providing an awning of foliage. The pathway's name, La Cerchiata.."

A spire of water shot twenty feet in the air. Now they were looking out at the Boboli's most famous spouting fountain - Stoldo Lorenzi's bronze of Neptune clutching his three-pronged trident..

Langdon led her to the left, and they began descending a steep incline. As they emerged from the trees, the Pitti Palace came into view..

..The guidebooks referred to the piece as a "colossal stone basin from Rome's Baths of Caracalla", but Langdon always saw it for what it truly was - the world's largest bathtub. 

"Good God, the Medici could afford any artwork on earth, and they chose this?".. That's Braccio di Bartolo - a famous court dwarf

The Buontalenti Grotto was arguably the most curious-looking space in all of Florence. 

Langdon suddenly cut to his left, away from the entrance and toward a feature Sienna had previously missed - a gray door to the left of the cavern. 

..Perhaps twice a day, a VIP tour would arrive outside the space, having walked all the way from the Uffizi Gallery. Ernesto would greet them, unlock the metal gate, and permit the group to pass through to the little grey door, where their tour would end in the Boboli Gardens."

Vasari Corridor & Ponte Vecchio

IL CORRIDOIO VASARIANO. The Vasari Corridor was designed by Giorgio Vasari .. to provide safe passage from his residence at Pitti Palace to his administrative offices, across the Arno River in the Palazzo Vecchio.

Elevated above the city for nearly its entire length, the Vasari Corridor was like a broad serpent, snaking through the buildings..

Langdon and Sienna moved to the portal and peered out, seeing that they were currently perched above the Ponte Vecchio - the medieval stone bridge that serves as pedestrian walkway into Old City.
View of Ponte Vecchio and Vasari Corridor from Uffizi Gallery
To this day, three separate plaques - each quoting a different line from Canto 16 of Dante's Paradiso - could be found near the murder side. One of them was situated on the mouth of the Ponte Vecchio..

..Thirty-feet below, on the cobblestones of the Ponte Vecchio, Vayentha anxiously scanned the oncoming crowd..

Beneath her, Vayentha noticed a four-man crew shell skimming across the water and passing under the bridge. The hull read SOCIETA CANOTTIERI FIRENZE. Could Langdon have taken a boat across?

Palazzo Vecchio, Cerca Trova & The Death Mask

The building's unusual single spire, rising off the center from within he square fortress, cuts a distinctive profile against the skyline and has become an inimitable symbol of Florence. 

Built as a potent seat of Italian government, the building imposes on its arriving visitors an intimidating array of masculine statuary.. Neptune.. David.. Hercules and Cacus..

Normally, Langdon's visit to the Palazzo Vecchio had begun here on the Piazza della Signoria, which, despite its overabundance of phalluses, had always been one of his favourite plazas in Europe. No trip to the Piazza was complete without sipping an espresso at Caffe Riviore, followed by a visit to the Medici Lions in the Loggia Dei Lanzi - the piazza's open air sculpture gallery..


As it turns out, this phrase points very specifically to a famous mural that hangs in the Palazzo Vecchio - Giorgio Vasari's Battalia di Marciano in the Hall of Five Hundred.

These ten letters, Langdon had realised, stood at the core of one of the art world's most enigmatic mysteries, a centuries-old puzzle that had never been solved. In 1563..

It's almost impossible to see it from down here without binoculars but in the top middle section, if you look just below the two farm-houses on the hillside, there's a tiny green flag..

The death mask. Langdon felt the first moment of clarity he'd felt since waking up in Florence. Dante's Inferno.. cerca trova..Looking through the eyes of death. The mask!

"The Dante's Mask is around the corner. It's displayed in a narrow space called l'andito which is essentially just a walkway between two larger rooms. An antique cabinet against the sidewall holds the mask, which keeps it invisible until you draw even with it."

Obviously, your brother is no interested in any of our other pieces, but as long as you're here, you shouldn't miss our bust of Machiavelli or the Mappa Mundi globe in the Hall of Maps. 

Langdon glanced up and saw that they were just passing the austere stone facade of the Bargello Museum to their right. Behind it, the tapered spire of the Badia tower rose above the surrounding structures. He stared at the top of the tower, wondering why Zobrist had jumped ..

Case di Dante & Church of Dante

The Casa Di Dante is located on Via Santa Margherita and is easily identified by the large banner suspended from the stone facade partway up the alleyway: Museo Casa Di Dante.


Known as the Church of Date, the sanctuary of Chiesa di Santa Margherita dei Cerchi is more of a chapel than a church..

Cathedral Complex

Having Arrived on the south side of the piazza, Langdon and Sienna were not facing the side of the cathedral with its dazzling exterior of green, pink and white marble.

The Gates of Paradise

A ray of golden light blazed now in Langdon's mind as a beautiful image materialised - a spectacular set  of bronze doors - radiant and glistening in the morning sun. 

Crafted of gilded bronze and over fifteen feet tall, the doors had taken Lorenzo Ghiberti more than twenty years to complete. They were adorned with ten intricate panels of delicate biblical figures… Michaelangela had proclaimed them so beautiful as to be fit for use - as the Gates of Paradise. 

The Baptistry of San Giovanni

Adorned in the same polychromatic facing stones and striped pilasters as the cathedral, the baptistry distinguished itself from the larger building by its striking shape - a perfect octagon. 

Legend proclaims that it is physical impossible, upon entering the Baptistry of San Giovanni, not to look up..

Langdon fixed his gaze now on the centrepiece of mosaic. Hovering directly above the main altar rose a twenty-seven foot Jesus Christ, seated in judgement over the saved and damned. 

On His left hand, however, the sinful were stoned.. Overseeing the torture was a colossal mosaic of Satan portrayed as an infernal, man-eating beast. Lo 'mperador del dolorous regno. The emperor of the despondent kingdom.

On a raised platform, behind a decorative gate, there sat a tall hexagonal plinth of caved marble, which resembled a small altar or service table. The exterior was so intricately carved that it resembled a mother-of-pearl cameo. Atop the marble base sat a polished wooden top.. 

From out of the shadows, the dead face of Dante Aloghieri was looking back at him. 


St Marks Basilica

And what's more, the interior of St Mark's famous for being adorned, it is entirety, in solid gold tiles

First we go to St Mark's Basilica and find the tomb or statue of tis treacherous doge, and then we kneel down. 


Santa Lucia

Venice's SANTA LUCIA Train station is an elegant, low-slung structure made of grey stone and concrete. It was designed in a modern, minimalist style , with a facade that is gracefully devoid of all signage except one symbol - the winged letters FS - the icon of the state railway system, the Ferrovie dell Stato

Church of San Geremia

As they rounded a bend in the canal, the massive, domed Church of San Geremia came into view. "Saint Lucia," Langdon whispered, reading the saint's name from the inscription on the side of the church. The bones of the blind. 

Casino Di Venezia

Once a private mansion, it was now a black-tie gaming hall that was famous for being on the site at which, in 1883, composer Richard Wagner had collapsed dead of a heart attack..

Rialto Bridge

Ahead, the famous Rialto Bridge loomed - the halfway point to St. Mark's Square. 

Pushing past the crush of tourists on the Rialto Bridge, Sienna Brooks began running again, sprinting west along the canal-front…

St.Marks Square

…lies at the Southern-most tip of Venice's Grand Canal, where the sheltered waterway merges with the open sea. 

Dogana Da Mar Maritime Customs

Over-looking this perilous intersection is the austere triangular fortress of Dogana da Mar - the Maritime Customs Office - whose watchtower once guarded Venice against foreign invasion. Nowadays, the twee has been replaced y a massive golden globe…


Campanile Di San Marco

In a city where high-rises were non existent as a result of their tendency to sink, the towering Campanile di San Marco served as a navigational beacon

Ponte Dei Sospiri
Il Ponte dei Sospiri," Sienna replied. "A famous Venetian bridge". Langdon peered dan the cramped waterway and saw the beautifully carved, enclosed tunnel that arched between the two buildings. The Bridge of Sighs…

Hotel Danieli

He had found a spot in front of Hotel Danieli, only a hundred yards from St Mark's Square and Doge's Palace.