Author: Harry Cochrane

Harry Cochrane is a jobbing man of letters from Northumberland. When he’s not penning his own poetry, Harry’s busy reviewing other people’s verses for The Times Literary Supplement, teaching English, translating, and commenting on opera as The Florentine’s resident reviewer.
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 […]
December 4, 2019

Flea-ing the piazza

Late October saw the official opening of the new Mercato delle Pulci, or flea market, in largo Annigoni. Nearly four years have passed since the stalls were moved from piazza dei Ciompi, which they had occupied for more than six decades, but until last month their housing in the clearing near the Sant’Ambrogio market was […]
December 3, 2019

Opera review: Puccini’s Il Trittico

The music critic Edward Joseph Dent did not think the one-act opera a successful genre. He recognised only two famous and successful examples, Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana, and even they were only acceptable if performed together. It is little surprise, then, that Puccini’s Il Trittico (The Tryptych) is rarely staged in full, for of its […]
June 5, 2018

Last of the summer wine

It was too good to be true. “I have a friend who’s a winemaker,” said Ambrogio, my Italian literature teacher, “and he’s suggested that I bring some students out there this summer.” Two months later it was mid-August, and the seven of us were thoroughly installed in the guest house at a Chianti cantina. Every […]
May 30, 2018

The Bigallo to undergo restoration

The Bigallo museum and loggia are to be restored thanks to the Florence-based advertising agency Real Media, who will cover the total cost of just over one million euro.