Tag Archives: Douglas Preston

Florence: Real Life Horror Story


The Monster of Florence Book Cover

Destination: Florence

Book: The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston

*”A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.”  Samuel Johnson.

On this visit to Florence, perhaps you would be more comfortable if I were talking about Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King, or The Stones of Florence by Mary McCarthy, but when I first read an excerpt from The Monster of Florence in Atlantic Magazine, I found it fascinating.

If you are not aware of his story, Douglas Preston moved with his family to live the idyllic life that I myself imagined when I spent three short days  in Florence. ‘Ahh, to go back and sink into the city for several months,’ I thought. ‘Nothing but sidewalk cafes, museums, great art, beautiful country surrounding the city, wonderful food and wine and the best shopping in the world.’

However, Preston became involved in investigating a serial crime and wound up being branded a criminal himself, in a Kafkaesque downward spiral through the Italian judicial system.

See how his experience in Florence affected the author in this quote from the article at World Hum:

“My feelings are very changed,” Preston wrote. “There are no ‘magical’ places once you get to know them well—human nature is the same everywhere. While Florence is a beautiful city, it can also be squalid, dirty, dark, cold and quite different from the image presented in the tourist brochures.”

I imagine you can say the same for any place that you idealize, but I still would like to go back in live in Florence for several months. Reading Preston just gave me a little reality check.