A Florence Diary

Diana Athill

Published: 3 November 2016
Hardback, A Format
111x178mm, 64 pages
ISBN: 9781783783168


In August 1947, Diana Athill travelled to Florence by the Golden Arrow train for a two-week holiday with her good friend Pen. In this playful diary of that trip, Athill recorded her observations and adventures - eating with (and paid for by) the hopeful men they meet on their travels, admiring architectural sights, sampling delicious pastries, eking out their budget and getting into scrapes.

Written with an arresting immediacy and infused with an exhilarating joie de vivre, A Florence Diary is a bright, colourful evocation of a time long lost, and a vibrant portrait of a city that will be deliciously familiar to any contemporary traveller.

About the author

Image of Diana Athill

Diana Athill was born in 1917. She helped André Deutsch establish the publishing company that bore his name and worked as an editor for Deutsch for four decades. Athill's distinguished career as an editor is the subject of her acclaimed memoir Stet, which is also published by Granta Books, as are several further volumes of memoirs, Instead of a Letter, After a Funeral, Yesterday Morning, Make Believe, Somewhere Towards the End, and Alive, Alive Oh!, the travelogue A Florence Diary, a novel, Don't Look at Me Like That, and a collection of letters, Instead of a Book. In January 2009, she won the Costa Biography Award for Somewhere Towards the End, and was presented with an OBE. She lives in London. More about the author


‘A delectable time capsule, [Athill] brings alive the liberation, luck and drama of those Italian days’



‘A delight: as good as time travel’ This week in books, chosen by Gillian Reynolds

‘A short, sweet account of Diana Athill's 1947 trip to Florence in which the venerable writer turns her gimlet gaze on everything from Florentine pastries to dull, fellow British tourists. The perfect stocking filler for armchair travellers’ Claire Allfree, Best Non Fiction of 2016

‘Athill records vibrant impressions, [...] each one informed by a sense of wonder that only an outsider can possess’ Christian House

‘The buoyant, naïve tone of the diary is endearing, and the impressions of the city have a period interest enhanced by the book's black-and-white photographs of familiar Italian views’ Lindsay Duguid

‘The vivid intensity and Athill's joy at being young and alive and abroad make [A Florence Diary] perfect for travellers of any age’ Jane Shilling

‘This wonderful book is as near to time travel as anyone could wish and probably just as fun’ Gillian Reynolds

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