A Short History of Florence – book review

“Florence had the Alberti fighting for freedom, but never had real Jacobins. It experienced the Viva Maria insurrections, but never really witnessed strong extremist passions. Using the comparison of the colours universally celebrated by Stendhal, we can say that the Florentine red rather resembled a pink and that the black looked more like a grey.”  ― Franco Cardini, A Short History of Florence

A Short History of FlorenceA Short History of Florence by Franco Cardini

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It is only due to my ignorance that A Short History of Florence didn’t engage me as it should. I picked up this copy after we had toured the Academia Gallery hoping to become better informed about the city and its people. The book briefly covers Florence from the 1100 to the late 1800’s, although most of the book focuses on the late 13 to the mid 15 century. I would say this book would be best experienced after first reading the complete history of Florence.

I did take a couple of tidbits from the story that will make my next trip to Florence livelier: Friar Girolamo Savonarola was hung on the stake in the Piazza della Signoria, after becoming unpopular with the Pope. This certainly gives a glimpse of what life in Florence in 1498 could be like.

If the following words don’t send you running for your dictionary: oligarchic, gnomon, doge, gonfaloneer, floridity, sepolcri and historical references such as the Viva Maria insurrection don’t make your head tip sideways and your nose crinkle up, then you will get a lot more of this book then I did.

If you are easily irritated by misuse of tense and pronouns you will not enjoy this book. There are also a lot of spacing errors, run-on sentences and stinted language. Some of the text reminded me of the results you often see when using Google translate. But Italian is a beautiful language so anything translated into our gruff Germanic hodge-podge is destined to be horrible, as is demonstrated in this book.

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“Meanwhile, Florence was increasingly becoming, for different reasons that not were not foreign to one another nor opposed – artistic and cultural on the one hand and political on the other – the Mecca of travelers and foreign residents.”  ― Franco Cardini, A Short History of Florence

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