Better travelling through video games

While looking along the rooftop of Florence’s Cathedral from the apex of the Duomo, I realize with a sharp flash of recall that I have lived in this city before. More striking, however, is the realization that I have also died in this city.

Interior of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore.

I climbed up from the inside of the dome beneath me, and having surveyed the local terrain from the crucifix atop this very building, stole some precious gems and gold pieces in nearby chests, and began making my way down. Unfamiliar with the exterior walls, however, I soon slipped down the dome and plummeted to the ground below. This is not, however, a former incarnation - rather, it is a computer game: specifically, Assassin’s Creed II.

This is even more slippery than it looks.

Now, there are two advantages of Assassin’s Creed over the real thing that immediately come to mind: a) you can see Florence as it was in the Renaissance, with few tourists, and still get a strong sense of the social norms of the people of the time, and a tactile familiarity with the geography. Some of these social norms I even found myself beginning to internalise. b) Those inhabitants that are about who begin to annoy you - for example pilgrims, who are really just the historic equivalents of tourists - you can kill.