Love him or hate him, Dan Brown deserves a huge thumbs up for having done more for the Florentine economy in a relatively short period of time than anyone else in recent years.
First came the book, Inferno (theflr.net/o0xc19) in 2013, in which The Florentine got name-dropped. As this article goes to press, Florence is submerged in full-on Inferno mania as Ron Howard and his team take to the streets, rivers, bridges, parks, buildings, museums and even the skies for the film version of the epic tale. Pre-production began at the start of April and the filming, scheduled to begin on May 2, is expected to continue for two weeks.
The positive and negative effects for Florence are multiple and immense. There is, of course, an immediate return for the temporary irritations of traffic snarls, detours and museum closures: the hard dollars gained simply by having a Tinseltown film crew and Hollywood stars staying in town, from a few extra euro for the locals (Howard’s team cast approximately 2,000 faces as extras) to the windfall for hotels, restaurants, shops and other businesses and services. For the film crew’s use of the Uffizi, the Boboli Gardens and Palazzo Pitti, the Polo Museale Fiorentino has received approximately 230 thousand euro. Excluded from this figure are the salaries of the security staff and various licensing fees for images. An additional 250 thousand euro has gone toward the crew’s use of Palazzo Vecchio and circa 120 thousand toward general occupation of city grounds, costs of cleaning the Salone dei Cinquecento and tightened security protocols around town.
This opportunity could result in much more than a quick injection of cash into the economy, however. Many of us have been checking Ron Howard’s Twitter account to the point of obsession, drooling at the amazing shots of Florence that only a Hollywood director can take: while we mere mortals climb the Cupola to see the city from on high, @realronhoward tweets photos from his helicopter. Indeed, Howard’s Twitter timeline is littered with local-oriented hashtags such as #florence #pontevecchio #thehallof500 and #thedavid linked to some mighty powerful tags like #infernomovie and big Hollywood names such as @tomhanks. In other words: Florence and her local attractions are basking in positive visibility that no officially formulated marketing campaign could ever hope to gain.
Although Florence’s cultural and architectural treasures are renowned the world over, this movie may achieve something that the city could not possibly do on its own. It’s exciting to think about how attractive this high-quality, fairly accurate popular film (the book has its inconsistencies and the movie will, too) will make Florence to a massive global audience of potential visitors. What remains to be seen is how the city’s public and private sectors will make use of this gift.
Get to know Florence past and present with The Florentine’s Inferno Florence Guide. The guide takes you to all the Florence sites of Dan Brown’s Inferno, with historical and current information about the locations experienced by the book’s characters. Download the app at theflr.net/inferno.