Michael Barbour, lecturer

Thursday 18–Friday 19 January 5.00 pm COURSE FEES R220; Staff and students R110

Its artists, its palazzi, its churches, its surprises, its works of art, its mysteries, its visitors, its curiosities and more: how could Florence not be rich in stories? Some of its stories are local trivialities and some of them are the roots of the cultural experience of Western society. You may have been to Florence but did your guidebook tell you which palazzo has a throne room and why? Or how to build a bridge or a library?

These two lectures will recount, briefly, diverse themes from Florence, ancient and modern – themes that make detours from the well-trodden tourist itinerary and narrative. Is there a connection between a couple of tombs and a bridge? What did Mark Twain say about the River Arno? Where did David Herbert Lawrence stay? And who brought his elephant to Florence in the sixteenth century?

Lecture titles

  1. Not only ice cream
  2. Not only palaces and paintings

Recommended reading

Borsook, E. 1973. The Companion Guide to Florence. London: Collins. Scott, R. 1987. Florence Explored. London: Bodley Head.

Macadam, A. 2017. Blue Guide Florence. London: A & C Black.

Stace, C. 1989. Florence. City of the Lily. Various publishers and available online at: