The first scene of E M Forster’s A Room with a View centres on Miss Bartlett’s emotional lament over the room she and her cousin Lucy have been given by the pension’s signora on their arrival in Florence: ‘She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms […] looking into a courtyard.’ Lucy says, ‘it might be London’, and Miss Bartlett continues, even more animated, ‘Oh, it is a shame! Any nook will do for me, but it does seem hard that you shouldn’t have a view.’ But that evening they meet with good fortune as, in their first exchange before dinner, a Mr Emerson and his son, George, offer to swap, as they have rooms with a view. They turn the offer down, but later after intervention

by Mr Beebe they accept, even though there is some sneering about the lowly status of the Emersons and their presumed political views. But late that night, Lucy can open the window in her new room, and she ‘breathed in the clean air, thinking of the kind old man who had enabled her to see the lights dancing in the Arno and the cypresses of San Miniato, and the foothills of the Apennines, black against the rising moon’. In the morning, the view is fresh and sparkling, and she now flings open the windows ‘to lean into the sunshine with beautiful hills and trees and marble churches opposite, and, close below, the Arno, gurgling against the embankment of the road’.