Before you quietly consent to accept me as your chosen guide and Cicerone, before we actually rush in ‘media res’, and finally start on our wanderings in town and country; would it not be as well that we should enjoy a little preparatory conversation together?”
– B. Spence, 1852, The ‘Lions’ of Florence
The history of Florentine tourism is explored here through one of the most crucial items a tourist could own: the guidebook. Published in large numbers, translated into different languages, and visualized with maps and vedute (city views), guidebooks were at the heart of this evolving tourism industry. Valuable for their accuracy, range, and utility, guidebooks were kept up-to-date by constant revision and yearly editions. Through such accuracy and precision, guidebooks are a microcosm of the evolution of tourism and the many significant world events of the 18th and 19th centuries.
This work was completed in collaboration with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence and their large collection of 19th century guides and photographs. Roughly 160 guidebooks were consulted, of which, 30 were chosen for the important changes they illustrated or for their embodiment of a certain time period.