Introduction

Calvium worked with Art History and Visual Culture professors Fabrizio Nevola and David Rosenthal from the University of Exeter to create the Hidden Florence app. The free app invites you on six unique tours of the Renaissance city through the eyes of a ‘contemporary’ guide, including wool workers, police officers, bankers and matriarchs. Following in your guides’ footsteps allows the visitor to engage imaginatively with Renaissance Florence as a lived experience, while going to places that most tourist guides tend to neglect.

After the success of the previous iterations of Hidden Florence from 2014, the app was extended in June 2019 to include new stories and characters created by historians at the University of Exeter University of Toronto,  and the National Gallery, London.

Four screenshots of Hidden Florence menu within Android phones

Background

Fabrizio and David have always been interested in connecting people and their surroundings with history. Wanting to attract new audiences to unexplored areas of Florence, as well as enabling a way to engage audiences, they thought that a mobile app would be the best way to do this.

Working with Calvium was terrific. Their expert knowledge in designing AppTrails helped us select sites and create a narrative thread that was very much aimed at our intended users, while at the same time not losing sight of the academic research that underpins each walk.

Fabrizio Nevola, University of Exeter

Results

Calvium worked with the team from Exeter university to create the Florentine AppTrail. With the app, users can navigate the streets of Florence in a novel way, using both a modern and superbly detailed period map to hunt for statues, shrines, piazzas and palaces. As you do this, your guide tells you vivid tales about their neighbourhood and the city centre. They also air their views on everything from city politics to taverns dice-games, and on everyone from Lorenzo de’Medici to the apothecary on the street corner. Essentially, the Hidden Florence app connects people to the city, entertaining them whilst not neglecting the historical research underpinning the project.

On Christmas day 2016, Hidden Florence was featured on Richard Ayoade’s hit TV show, Travel Man. Using Giovanni as their guide, Richard fancied around Florence with Hollywood Actress Rebel Wilson, who we thought summed up the app nicely…

“It’s like playing Pokémon Go… but with historical sites!’

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Richard Ayoade & Rebel Wilson on Channel 4’s Travel Man.