Florence4D Map Viewer


1. City Descriptions: Text and Image

This tour through a sample of the data we’re using in the project presents ways of spatializing text, images and maps as we move from urban to local scale.

How do maps represent the urban environment, and how can we use historical maps to mediate our understanding of urban form in the past? Our map-based data visualisations use historic maps that are at once familiar, but also highlight changes made to the city over time. Written accounts of the city on the other hand are often less grounded in cartographic paradigms. We’ve mapped a range of documents to show how digital approaches can help us assign spatial meaning to diverse sources, ranging from sixteenth-century guide books to city descriptions. In so doing we’re showing how spatial and experiential interpretation shapes new research questions; the Hidden Florence app takes this approach and enables us to present this work on site through a series of walking tours.


Our website allows you to visualize data on a modern-day map or satellite view, or within two remarkable historic maps which...

Benedetto Dei's Descriptions of Florence (1470-72)

What is it that made Florence a city in the 1470s?
This dataset is the first attempt to spatialize two textual descriptions...

Pastoral Visitations

The bishops of Florence periodically inspected the city’s churches, leaving behind documents known as pastoral visitations,...


Francesco Bocchi’s ‘Le Bellezze della città di Fiorenza’ (1591) is one of the earliest guidebooks for the city of Florence,...

Hidden Florence

Explore the city on foot with the Hidden Florence app.
Another way to configure geospatial data is through use of...

2. Arts of Florence

Any visitor to Florence knows it to be a visually complex and saturated environment, where every building, monument and street corner is inscribed with multiple meanings.

This tour has no ambition to be comprehensive, but rather we present what we expect to be a growing group of datasets that express in spatial, urban terms, samples of the art and architecture of Renaissance Florence in groups that highlight their relevance to patrons, residents and authors seeking to draw out interpretation of these.

We move spatially from contingent sites, widening outwards to more comprehensive descriptive accounts, and closing with the role of interpretation in making meaning at urban scale. So then, you can explore the easily-overlooked urban feature of street corners; these often hosted religious images - paintings and sculptures believed to perform miracles that attracted the devotion of crowds - overlaying a sacred topography to the everyday urban fabric. You can explore these patterns by plotting the Canti and Miraculous Images datasets on the map. Seeking to make sense of the city for visitors, the Florentine trade agent and partisan of the Medici, Benedetto Dei (1418-1492), listed what he deemed unmissable for an outsider visiting the city in the Quattrocento. As the city grew in splendour over the following century, one of the first guidebooks, Francesco Bocchi’s Le Bellezze della città di Fiorenza (1591), lists all the churches and palaces that beautify the city, seeking to provide a more comprehensive list of sites and the artworks they housed. Quite different in scope, Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists became a canonical text in the biographical narrative which placed Florentine art at the centre; mapping the artworks that structure that narrative allows us to explore the spatial contours, rethinking how we interpret Vasari’s account and artistic values against the backdrop of locations and functions of artworks. A curated dataset from the Hidden Florence app marks a number of sites where Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464) fulfilled his ambition of patron of the arts. You can explore the same signposts as geo-located audio tracks directly from your mobile phone.


Most of Florence’s toponomastics remain unchanged since the Renaissance; this is the case for street intersections, known...

Miraculous Images

The data shows the distribution of images believed to have performed miracles and venerated through public cults across Florence...


Francesco Bocchi’s ‘Le Bellezze della città di Fiorenza’ (1591) is one of the earliest guidebooks for the city of Florence,...

Benedetto Dei's Landmarks

This dataset maps the city's landmarks around the year 1472 according to Florentine trade agent Benedetto Dei.

Sampling Vasari

Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists continues to condition the way that we frame the history of art through biography....

Experience Medicean Florence

Cosimo the Elder laid the foundations for the wealth and patronage that made his family the rulers of Renaissance Florence....

3. Spatializing Charity: The Innocenti in Its Context

Discover how the Innocenti foundling hospital sat at the heart of multiple networks – of property ownership, of artistic patronage, of health provision, and of poor relief.

The Innocenti was only one of many hospitals in Florence providing general relief or specialising in different areas of care: for pilgrims, for women, for the sick, or (in the case of the Innocenti) for orphans: the map allows you to plot these institutions across the city. Records from the Decima tax census in 1561 reveal the Innocenti’s extensive property portfolio across the city, mostly houses for private rent: the census tells us how these properties were rented out and to whom. At the hospital itself, we can analyse the important artworks commissioned for its church, now mostly in the adjacent museum but with fragments also in London. Learn more about the Innocenti’s activities and how Florentine institutions sustained and shaped the life of the urban poor through the example of Marietta, a foundling raised by the Innocenti who goes on to work as a silk weaver and raise her own family.

Charitable Institutions

Charitable institutions dedicated to diverse forms of welfare were distributed across the city, as is shown by this dataset...

Innocenti Property Records from DECIMA

Charitable institutions relied on endowments for their income, and often these took the form of rent income from properties....

Visualizing Arts in Santa Maria degli Innocenti

This dataset shows the artworks that adorned the altars of Santa Maria degli Innocenti through time.

It includes...

Marietta and her life as Innocente through a geolocated walk

This dataset maps the sites of everyday life for Marietta, silk weaver and former foundling at the Innocenti Hospital, in...

Map Details

non-religious institutional building
private residence
Works of Art
urban feature other