Street Life Renaissance Florence: A Digitally Triggered Location-Based Tour in an Augmented Reality Environment

  • Nevola, F (PI)

Project: Research council

Project Details


At the heart of this proposal is a document from 1593, a description of an imaginary 'pub crawl' through Florence, roughly from periphery to centre, that was written by a member of a Florentine literary academy. This document, identified as part of ongoing research in the AHRC-funded Connected Communites pilot project, Taverns, Locals and Street Corners by the RA (Dr David Rosenthal), triggered the idea to propose an innovative and engaging approach to presenting new research in a medium that will have wide appeal to a broad public of tourists and travellers in Florence, one of the world's leading cultural capitals. The app will be presented as an itinerary of roughly fifteen sites, that can be followed by a user as a 'tour' or accessed in any order (or remotely in 'armchair' mode). Apart from providing a skeleton for the tour, the 1593 document speaks to a number of the issues that tavern culture raises in the early modern period - the nature of class relations and sociability; the importance of drink to carnivalesque or festive culture; the pleasures and benefits, physical and psychological, of drinking (wine); and the conflicts over, and policing of, public behaviour. The app will address these issues, among others, in a broad historical context at various sites on the tour, using stories from a range of sources - literary, administrative, letters, chronicles - to elucidate points in a easily digestible fashion. The app will thus use contemporary maps, images, and snippets of contemporary documents that the user will be able to access while in situ. It will also have a spoken narrative that the user can choose to plug into. Links will also be provided to further reading for those who want more detail and analysis, made available on the existing project website: The PI and RA will work with a specialist company in the research and development of geo-located apps, Calvium Ltd. Calvium ( are industry leaders in user-experience design in the app sector and have been responsible for developing various location-based apps (e.g. Guardian streetstories); the PI has already been in discussion with the company to explore how the app might be developed to achieve innovative goals in the research of user-response feedback and involvement through connecting to other social media platforms. We will hold an initial workshop where technology and industry specialists in story/walk for handheld devices will come together with RA and PI to explore and better define the research aims and how these can be achieved through digitally triggered location-based technologies. An iterative process suggested by Calvium will subsequently be employed to test and then refine the idea and subsequenty create a working prototype, or proof of concept. We anticipate this first 'proof of concept' to be easily re-edited for inclusion of additional content in the future. The aim for both PI and RA is to learn - within reason - the methods and approaches applied so that they will be able to manage, maintain and adapt the final product with minor aftercare from the developer. We have established there is both an audience and demand for this product. The Florence tourism office (APT) are enthusiastic about the idea and will offer in-kind support through publicity through their website and various wifi hotspots in the city; also various Florence-based English-language university courses have expressed an interest in adopting the app. Moreover, this proposal is especially timely as GIS mapping and the application of digital technology to mapping Early Modern Florence is attracting attention from leading academic colleagues in North America (Chicago and Toronto) and Europe. The PI and RA have indeed been invited to speak at a workshop on digital mapping in June 2013 at the Kunsthistorisches Institute in Florence, and this would provide an ideal and prestigious showcase for our project.
Effective start/end date1/01/1330/06/13


  • AHRC


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