Florence Free Tour

Walking on the Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci, perhaps on the left sidewalk in the direction of Ponte alla Carraia, almost up to Piazza Ognissanti on the wall of the current Grand Hotel raising our heads we can see a small plaque on the wall of the aforementioned hotel. The plaque bears the following writing: “In the memory of Leland Stanford Jr. who died in this house on March 13, 1884 and in homage to the university that bears his name the undergraduates of the year 1907 place this memory”. But who was Leland Jr? He was the son of the US politician first governor and then Senator of California Leland Stanford.

During the Grand Tour of Europe, the Stanford family arrived in Constantinople for a consultation with the sultan on the construction of the railway network in Turkey, also given that Leland was director of Central Pacific Railroad. After having subsequently visited Athens covered with snow (January 1884) the wife and son begin to have illness, therefore they divert their journey to Italy but arrived in Rome the parents decide … “The climate of Rome was clearly not d ‘ Agreement with Leland, and brought it to Florence, where the air was a little more toning. ” Unfortunately, fifteen -year -old Leland had contracted cheering, bacterial disease for which there was no cure. For several weeks the poor boy remained in his dark room in the hotel, but the fever increased day after day, his mother Jane writes to a friend of hers “I turned to me in search of comfort to the donor of good and evil and my faith It has increased, and now I turn to him again with pleas of saving my dear son.

” To decrease the fever, the doctors envelop the young man’s body with frozen wet sheets, a thermal shock that Leland could not stand. To look after the unfortunate boy there were nuns who controlled the situation 24 hours a day, the hotel director made the straw spread on the road to cushion the noises caused by the wagons and carriages, but their efforts were in vain; On March 131884 Leland Stanford Jr died. After dreaming the deceased son, his father told the wife that “California’s children will be our children”, so much so that once they returned to the United States, the Stanfords in honor of his son dedicated their luck to a memorial in his name and in 1891 founded the Leland Stanford Junior University to instruct the boys of California.

If you like this story you can come to visit Florence with us. We are running our Florence Free Tour, that start in front of Minerva Hotel in Santa Maria Novella square, please book your tour.