Walking out of Florence's central train station towards Ponte Vecchio, we meet Santa Maria Novella church and its piazza. Continuing to walk along the narrow streets of Florence, we reach the riverside of the Arno river and get a fabulous view of the river and the bridges that join the two sides of the city. As I reach the Ponte Vecchio (or old bridge) I see a lot of people gathered there.
Santa Maria Novella
Ponte S. Trinita and Santo Spirito ChurchThe Ponte Vecchio is a bridge that resembles a market. It is full of shops, mainly old jewelry, goldsmiths and silversmiths, but also small souvenir shops, coffee shops and pastry shops.
Walking along from Ponte Vecchio towards the Uffizi, there was two metal bars that were full of locks with peoples' names on. These are locks that couples have left there and by doing so, they "lock" their love.
Arriving at Uffizi, there is a very big crowd of people looking at the street artists, bargaining for paintings and other souvenirs, and others that are waiting to enter into the gallery to see famous masterpieces and works of art by artist including Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and other Tuscan artists. Continuing to Piazza della Signoria, which is very busy due to the Celebration of Europe that is going on in Florence this weekend, we meet the Palazzo Vecchio, which is Florence's town hall. A piazza with a lot of sculpture and art, including a copy if Michelangelo's David.
Copy of Michelangelo's DavidA typical walk around Florence leads to the Duomo. An impressive temple with Giotto's bell tower and the Baptistry with the Gates of Paradise. The original gates were made of gold, but they have now been replaced by a copy. Going up the Dome gives a really good view over Florence, as long as you have the time and patience to queue.
Duomo and the Baptistry
Duomo and the bell tower
Gates of Paradise
DomeOn each side of the Gates of Paradise, there are two brown marble columns. The legend for these columns is that they were brought to Florence by the soldiers from Pisa, and that they had a magical power to tell who has committed a crime. The Pisans, who were afraid of that power, burned the columns in order to ruin them, which is why they have acquired that color.
On the way from the Uffizi to Piazza del Duomo, is Piazza della Republica, which was Florence's city center when it was the capital of Italy for five years between Turin and Rome. Because Florence served as the capital for those few years, its center was changed, destroying many buildings, in order to make wider roads, as the narrow roads that existed were not adequate for the purposes of a capital city.
Piazza Della RepublicaFrom there, we took the side streets in order to arrive to Casa di Dante. On the way we meet the fast food "I Fratellini" which is an old wine bar and sandwich maker. Casa di Dante is located in a medieval neighborhood in which Dante lived. Casa di Dante is actually not the one where Dante lived, but hosts a lot of documents and the Dante museum. Around the corner is Chiesa di Dante, a beautiful little church where his "beloved" Beatrice is buried.
Walking around Florence, we also meet San Lorenzo's church, a medieval church, and its market, several other markets including the Mercato del Porcelino and street artists.
San Lorenzo and the Market
Mercato del Porcellino
Grom ice cream in FlorenceA street that is also worth visiting, especially for fashion lovers, is via dei Tornabuoni, which hosts most of the luxury brands, including a large Ferragamo flagship store and its museum.
Salvatore Ferragamo MuseumAfter a long day in Florence, I am led back to the train station to catch my train back to Milan.
I would like to thank the AEGEE Firenze organizers for this wonderful day and tour of Florence, as well as all the useful "insider" information that cannot be found elsewhere. I would also like to reference Eyewitness' Top 10 guide to Florence and Tuscany, which I also used as my guide around the city.
Sun setting over Florence