Enjoying Florence can take endurance with the throngs of tourists invading its narrow streets. But if you ditch the guide book for "A Room With a View" by E. M. Forster, you'll find it easier to get along. Written a 100 years ago, this charming book reminds us that the Tuscan city is a capital of art, not just an overcrowded museum. Left, the skyline of Florence, dominated by the Duomo and Brunelleschi's dome.
A window used in the 1986 film adaption by Merchant-Ivory.
The young heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, winds up alone in Basilica di Santa Croce, seen here, without her "Handbook to Northern Italy." With no cultural authority to tell her what to think, Forster wrote, "the pernicious charm of Italy worked on her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy."
Even if you've lost your guidebook, you're reminded at every step of the city's vast cultural riches: below, the bronze baptistery doors of Lorenzo Ghiberti.
The Piazza della Signoria at twilight, where Lucy wanders one evening, unaccompanied. A fight breaks out and when she sees blood trickling out of the fatally wounded man's mouth, she swoons into the arms of a fellow traveler, George Emerson, as luck would have it.
E. M. Forsterís Florence - The New York Times > Travel > Slide Show > Slide 8 of 8