Mornings in Florence, an account of six days of John Ruskin looking at the art and architecture of the medieval and proto-Renaissance era in Florence, Italy.
This book also acts as a guidebook for art history buffs visiting this incredible city. I do not recommend this book for the casual tourist, for Ruskin wrote this for the hardcore art historian. He will inundate the reader with jargon familiar to art and architecture experts. If you do not know anything about architecture and you try to read this book, something (book, website) dedicated to teaching definitions while you read.
When it comes to details, Ruskin leaves no angle, point, and tile unnoticed. You can imagine this man just sitting in a cathedral and just staring intensely at a triptych section. Once he feels he has looked at it enough, he will look at another section the same way. He interprets every symbol, expression, pose, and color found in art. He cites mythology origins that inspired these works. Plus, if he finds a painting retouched, he will let you know. He also critiques other guidebooks on Florence in this guidebook. Can you imagine that happening today? However, one big part of this book comes from him debating the authorship behind the art he writes about. He will not hold back if he finds something incorrect. To his credit, he also notes his limitations on subjects he does not study.
One word of warning, if you download the free version of this on Kindle, you will have no reproductions. Ruskin mentions photos that he uses as a tool many times in this book, but you will not see any. Also, he does go on tangents that on the surface do not look as though they relate to his analysis on art and architecture. For example, he starts off writing about a saint, then he talks about how to rear children. Finally, he has very politically incorrect views on women and people of Moorish descent.
All in all, as someone who adores Ruskin’s writing, I recommend this book.
ETA: Fixed a couple sentences.
ETA: 9-4-2014 Removed a link and a sentence. 9-16-2014. I didn’t look at said link (YouTube) ahead of time before I embedded it, for I thought it had relevance to my entry. Apologies.