Author: Harry Cochrane

Harry Cochrane is a jobbing man of letters from Northumberland. When he’s not penning his own poetry, Harry is likely reviewing other people’s for the Times Literary Supplement, or commenting on opera as The Florentine’s resident reviewer. You can follow him on Twitter @hjccochrane
April 30, 2020

We rub our eyes in the daylight

Saturday evening, February 29, I found myself eating in an Oltrarno restaurant, Antico Ristoro di Cambi. The place was packed to the gills, but fish was a rare sight on the menu: it was proper Florentine fare, beefy and bready. I was contrary and went for my new favourite, thoroughly southern dish: melanzane alla parmigiana. […]
April 17, 2020

Distant yet united harmonies of St Mark’s

Except when in the shower, singing is one of those art forms that seems to demand company. With a piano, your fingers can produce ten notes at the same time, but unless you are a Mongolian throat singer, your voice will only produce one. Among the countless enterprises to have suffered from Covid-19—bars, restaurant, sports […]
March 24, 2020

Exiled inside: parallels with Dante Alighieri

For the moment, we settle into a different exile, the one that really matters, and that is our personal severance from all society.

Dante Revisited

        I entered my old home like one entranced. Quaresima was almost ticked away. “What Lenten diet, how much have they renounced?”   I wondered, “they’ve even given up day- light.” For the streets were bare of men and women, save one who stood before me in the way.   “You don’t […]
March 17, 2020

Retreat into your home, not into yourself

I was at a birthday party when the news came through. Italy was under lockdown. It was 11pm or so. Buoyed by other people’s wine and other people’s cigarette fumes—I have always been the most passive of smokers—I took it with gung-ho optimism. Well, social gatherings might be banned, but that’s exactly what we’re having […]
March 11, 2020

Leigh Hunt: “the wit in the dungeon”

When people speak of the British Romantic poets who made a home of Tuscany, the name of Leigh Hunt is often neglected. The Italian stories of Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley and Lord Byron are far better known. But this son of a clergyman, as founder and editor of a radical journal called The Examiner, made—even […]
February 26, 2020

Dante’s Inferno as limericks and comics

Good Friday, 1300. Dante wakes up in the middle of a dark wood, and is found by the Roman poet Virgil, who has been tasked with showing him what happens to the souls who stray. Dante and Virgil enter the gates of hell and pass the Apathetic, who were neither enough for God nor bad […]
February 25, 2020

Digesting Dante

Think back to Dante’s lifetime (1265–1321) and count the number of foodstuffs that were unknown to him or his Italy: potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate and maize, to name but a few. Yet somehow the Sommo Poeta was never short of alimentary metaphors when writing about an afterworld where no one needs to eat, but where plenty […]
January 8, 2020


Say “Florence train station” and you mean Santa Maria Novella, and for the vast majority of tourists this thronging, thriving terminus might as well be the city’s only. It makes sense that development should be aimed here: with its 19 platforms—a couple of them out on a limb—and its underground shopping gallery, SMN is clearly […]
January 2, 2020

Opera review: La Bohème

Until January 5, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino stages Bruno Ravella’s and João Carvalho Aboim’s production of Puccini’s classic Christmas opera, a story of love, hunger and roofs-over-heads in fin-de-siècle Paris. Peopled by penniless, sensitive and starry-eyed students, its themes need no updating, which lets Angela Giulia Toso and Tiziano Santi go hammer-and-tongs at period costumes and […]