Our friend Lisa took the tour of Halloween and wrote for us this nice post. Thank you Lisa! 🙂
And thank you Nathan for these gorgeous pictures! 😉
Coming from New England, close to the historical bewitched (literally) town of Salem, Massachusetts, Halloween was a big deal for me growing up. But last year I was in Florence, Italy for October and it definitely was not the same. Sure, some bars have Halloween parties and a few Italian kids will be running around in costumes, but it surely isn’t the widespread hype that I was used to. The night went by quickly and without much of a memory.
This year, I was succumbing to the fact that it would probably be the same. But when I saw an ad for a Halloween Tour around Florence on the haunted night, I was extremely excited to make something of my Halloween. I immediately signed up with Inferno Tours and I am so glad I did.
I persuaded my two friends, Emilia and Madeline to join me on the tour and on Halloween night, we met in front of the Bargello – finding the group by spotting witch hats and a few skeletons. I had wanted to dress up, especially because the prize for best costume was a secret tour of the Palazzo Vecchio, but didn’t have time.
We were greeted promptly were checked in with a smile, and given our own Whisper headsets so that we would be able to hear our guide throughout the tour. And then, off we went – starting right at the Bargello, we launched into the history of the buildings that surrounded us.
As my friends and I walked the streets that we knew so well, perhaps it was the Halloween moon, but we were seeing them in a different light. Monuments glowed brighter, the architecture cast shadows we had never noticed before, and the secrets of Florence were slowly being revealed. Plus, they even threw in a few quotes about Dan Brown’s Inferno much to my appreciation.
Facts such as where the decrees of committed felons were posted (on the back of the Bargello Church) were so interesting to me. We walked to Piazza Signoria, and on the way our heads were filled with information – not only spooky, but also wonderfully educational – about the surrounding architecture, the battles of the high families and secrets that these old stone structures hold.
Murder plots that were successful inside the Duomo, a monk burned at the stake in front of the entire town, and the many prisoners that spent their last days high above Florence in the Palazzo Vecchio. I was enthralled with this city – with all of the past it holds. And as I walked – finally a simple tourist instead of the guide, I appreciated my adopted city so much better.
What is so amazing is that these streets have not changed. Stone may whether but it does not decay – and the stories they tell – of streets with fraternity symbols etched in their cornerstones, or plaques engraved into alleys with the simple demand that no one litter in the piazza – still remain. Love stories flooded our tour – some even (in my opinion) better than that of Romeo and Juliet, and tales of the devil tempting the Florentines around every corner.
The tour ended a little outside the center within the walls of the Murate (literally translates to “walled up”) – which I had walked by, but never ventured into. This building has housed sinners and saints – being built as a convent but then reconstructed as a prison – now it is simply housing – but not all of it has been restructured. We were led down into the belly of this historic beast and shown the remnants of when the building housed the lost souls of the Florentines.
In the oval shaped tower of a building, I looked up at the darkened cells and chills ran up my spine. The silence pressed in and I could almost hear the voices of this ancient city rising in the chamber. But two steps outside the gate, there were children running in the renovate area – complete with fountains and a very chic bar, crowded in the cool October evening.
The Halloween Tour allowed me to dig deep into the layers of dirt and stone of Florence, uncover the history of buildings that have transformed through the centuries, and learn about the Florentines that made this Italian city what I know as my home in the present day. They made my Halloween pretty decent – even if I was thousands of miles away from the witches I’m used to. I recommend having these guides take you around at some point – regardless if it is Halloween or not. You will never look at the city the same.