Turn your holiday retreat to Florence into a hunt for Hannibal and experience the world of the disturbing eponymous protagonist of Ridley Scott’s, Hannibal (2001), the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Set your course from Palazzo Capponi, the 15th-century house on the river front used as Hannibal’s residence while in Florence in both the book and film. Dark and imposing, the palazzo library is featured as the setting for the letter writing sequence, the lighthearted tones of Hannibal playing the library piano during the narration of his letter to Clarice as he informs her of his plans to "come out of retirement". The location was requested as Hannibal’s abode by author Thomas Harris following a visit to the city for research; Harris was shown around the city by its owner, Count Niccolò Capponi. Apartments are available to rent at the palazzo for diehard Hannibal enthusiasts.
Next stop, cross over Ponte Vecchio, the historic bridge laden today with jewelry shops where Inspector Rinaldo de’ Pazzi purchases a bracelet in his pursuit to reveal Lecter’s true identity, then head along the river to the Uffizi Gallery, where a red post box was staged for Hannibal to post his letter to Clarice. From here, head through the arcade to piazza della Signoria. Featured on several occasions during the movie, the piazza is first seen in the glitching greytone title sequence that introduces the audience to the city that would become the psychopath’s playground; short clips cut between nameless streets and piazzas, as well as the more identifiable sites of Florence, including the Duomo and Neptune’s Fountain (in piazza della Signoria) before concluding with a shot of Hannibal’s own face revealed among a mass of pigeons in the square.
Adjacent to the square stands Palazzo Vecchio, the famous Florence landmark used as the location for Inspector Pazzi’s murder; Hannibal mutilates and tortures Pazzi before slitting his stomach and pushing him over the front façade balcony, his victims’ guts splattering the stone floor of the piazza. Head inside to see the Salone dei Cinquecento, the hall in which Hannibal conducts lectures on art, acting under the alias of a museum curator, Dr. Fell, and through which Hannibal makes his getaway following the murder of Inspector Pazzi.
From piazza della Signoria, explore other historic centre locations used in the film, including piazza della Repubblica and piazza della Santissima Annunziata. Pop into Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, where Hannibal purchases hand cream to scent his letter to Clarice, later used by the FBI agent to track the psychopath down. Make your way to Santa Croce and visit the cloister in which Hannibal attends an outdoor opera and is introduced to Inspector Pazzi’s wife, Allegra. The aria featured in the scene, Vide cor meum, was specifically produced for the film by Hans Zimmer and Patrick Cassidy, setting to music a sonnet by famous Florentine Dante Alighieri from his work La Vita Nuova.
Don’t miss Mercato Nuovo, the open-air market where Inspector Pazzi washes his bloody hands at the Porcellino Fountain. Rub the bronze boar for luck, and hope Hannibal isn’t hanging around as this is where he murders a pickpocket sent to rob him, before heading off, a trail of blood following in his wake, back across the river to via dei Serragli, Piazza Tasso, via Villani and piazza Bellosguardo.
Florence at the hands of Dr. Hannibal Lecter is a gruesome place, so leave the film behind and remind yourself of the beauty and life of the city by heading out to Forte Belvedere, on the south side of the river, where you can catch the majestic views of the Florence skyline, first seen in sketch-form in Hannibal’s prison cell in The Silence of the Lambs.