In November 2018, before the global pandemic that emerged during the following year and affected all of our travel and research plans, I was fortunate enough to be working in Florence. Just a brief week-long visit to the National Archives and the National Library there.

In the evenings though, when dinner is done and it’s time to re-focus one’s eyes – weary from the close-up visual work that archival research demands – a walk through the city’s streets is as good as donning an cool eye mask from the refrigerator. For in this ancient city, while the edifices and artworks that have been present for centuries possess an almost thaumaturgical ability to provide the traveller with a sense of familiarity and the type of inner warmth and comfort gained only from those things that we perceive as being stable and longstanding, there is always a frisson in the air: the promise of something new and exciting to see around every corner, or so it would seem.

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