The theme for this blog entry about Florence is Dante: signs of this renowned poet (d. 1321) can be found all throughout the city.
In the Duomo, this spectacular painting (Domenico di Michelino, 1465) depicts the poet gazing longingly at the city of Florence (he wrote The Divine Comedy while in exile from his beloved home). On the left you see the Inferno and center is Mount Purgatory (as described in the Purgatorio). The celestial spheres of Paradiso are above. This painting beautifully transforms (translates, if you will) the grand scope of the poet's allegory into a clear visual format - although it depicts a city with architecture that Dante would not have known (the dome did not exist as such in his day).
Casa di Dante, where the poet (most likely) once resided. There's much to love about this wall display - not only does it have a nice diagram of all of Dante's circles of hell, but it also manages to squeeze in the entire text of The Divine Comedy on a single panel in tiny font! And how did those footprints get on the wall?
The "letters for Beatrice" phenomenon is mysterious and surprisingly recent in origin. For more on Dante's life and work (emphasis on The Divine Comedy), see this excellent website.
P.S. There is a Florence-DC connection I should note! In Meridian Park, you can see a statue of Dante clearly based on the painting in the Duomo (or something very much like it):
This portrayal of Dante looks pretty familiar. I see one major difference between this sculpture and the Duomo painting, though. The Dante in the Duomo holds an open book, but this Dante has his book closed.