You’ve seen Ron Howard’s “Inferno”. Now you can relive the Inferno movie in Florence and see where Dan Brown’s story meets reality. As we show you here, it’s definitely possible to see the same things in Florence that professor Langdon did.

Personally I think that the first half of the film is better, and not just because it’s set in Florence. There are some amazing overhead shots of the city. And it’s exciting seeing Zobrist flying from the Badia Fiorentina’s bell tower, Langdon and Siena racing through Boboli gardens, and of course a woman falling through the Vasari frescoes. I like it particularly because the film unveils a mysterious, darker side of the city.

Inferno movie in Florence: the run through Boboli Gardens

Langdon and Sienna flee into Boboli Gardens by climbing over a gate in Porta Romana. It’s probably a better idea for you buy a ticket to enter the gardens, but once inside you can run along the avenues, past all the same statues and fountains that they did. The Boboli Gardens is the vast Renaissance-style park adjacent to Palazzo Pitti, home to art galleries and one time residence of the Medici family. Amongst other things you’ll find an Egyptian obelisk, as featured in a scene of the film, and a weird looking Mannerist Grotto, where the two protagonists hide in the novel’s original story.

non touristy things to do in florence
Boboli Gardens, Florence – photo @pixabairis on pixabay

The two fugitives then enter a door (miraculously left open) that leads to the Vasari Corridor. This is the passageway that connects Palazzo Pitti with the Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio, running right above the Ponte Vecchio. Cosimo I wanted to build a safe and private way to move from his residence to the government palace – the Uffizi at that time housed the offices of the Medici, hence the name. Today it’s possible to visit it with a guide, though for reasons of safety these visits are restricted.

To tell you the truth, most Florentines haven’t seen inside this corridor. Of course the mythical professor Langdon (he invented the title of professor of symbology after all) with his impressive knowledge of art history knows every inch of it.

Exploring the secrets corners of Palazzo Vecchio

The protagonists, sweaty and anxious, end up inside Palazzo Vecchio. A horde of tourists is moved out of the way but they manage to avoid security guards and squeeze their way into improbable passages inside the palace. Once again, Langdon shows off his deep knowledge of the ‘Old Palace’, the historic seat of Florentine government.

Amazingly, anybody can follow in the footsteps of the Professor and Sienna. Well, kind of. You can climb secret staircases and enter the Studiolo through a hidden door, though you won’t be alone. To do so you need to book the Secret Passage tours in Palazzo Vecchio and a guide will lead you through these hidden rooms. It’s a fascinating experience. A bit like poking into secret places with unbelievable stories to tell, stories that are even more tantalising than the ones we see on screen.

palazzo vecchio florence
Palazzo Vecchio

Destroying a Vasari painting in the Hall of 500

The same tour takes you above the ceiling of the fabulous Hall of the 500, right where Sienna and Langdon almost lose their lives. You can see the complex system of trusses that holds the ceiling up. No, the scene of the film was not shot here but gives a good reconstruction of this space, and the effect is mesmerising.

In the Hall of 500 is one of the clues followed by Langdon: ‘Cerca Trova‘. This is not Dan Brown’s invention. The writing on the green flag is an unsolved mystery that has troubled many art history scholars. Some say that this clue refers to a hidden fresco by Leonardo da Vinci, hidden right behind the fresco “Battle of Manciano” by Vasari. Vasari himself would have put it there to preserve it as he was refashioning the room for Cosimo I.

Inferno and Dante’s Death Mask

You’ll be wondering if there is such a thing as Dante’s death mask. Well, there is and it really is in Palazzo Vecchio, in a glass case, on a hallway on the second floor. Although it’s not authentic, meaning it wasn’t made on the face of the deceased Dante, it doesn’t lose any of its eeriness. It stares at the visitors, eyeless, from its glass case. Who knows which other secrets it could tell?

inferno movie florence
Dante Death Mask
By SailkoOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

In the film Langdon steals the mask and leaves it inside the Baptistery that at the time of shooting was under renovation. It’s one of Florence’s oldest buildings, and includes ancient Roman remains and a magnificent golden Medieval mosaic. This place wasn’t chosen at random. Dante was in fact baptised here, and he mentions it in the Divine Comedy, revealing a strong connection to this edifice. Once again, Langdon knows it all.

If you’re wondering where to find the Botticelli’s Map of Hell , it’s not in Florence, but in the Vatican Library in Rome.

“Inferno” is just one of many films set in Florence and Tuscany, that prove themselves to be very inspiring and photogenic locations. And if you enjoy seeing them on the big screen, we assure you that the reality always beats the fiction.