Jo’s Monday walk : Ponte Vecchio

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I’m going to be very gentle with you this week.  We’re going to stroll along the banks of the River Arno.  Can there be anybody who thinks of Florence and not immediately of the Ponte Vecchio?  It’s the iconic image, and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.

A stone bridge has existed here, at the narrowest point of the entire Arno river, since 972.  In that time the bridge has twice been destroyed by flood, in 1177 and 1333.  The current bridge has been in place since 1345 and is a bit of a survivor.  It was the only one of the city’s bridges left standing when the Germans retreated in 1944, having bombed all of the others.  You shouldn’t be too disappointed to find that, up close, it has a slightly ramshackle appearance.  Hitler may have declined to destroy the bridge, but in 1966 nature did her very best to sweep it away.  The floods that year were catastrophic, damaging buildings and destroying artworks.  But the bridge held.

I’m starting my stroll at pretty, arched Ponte Santa Trinita, with it’s four statues. Here Via de Tornabuoni joins Lungoarno at the riverside.

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It’s a peaceful sight on this early Spring morning, but down on the river bank a team of workers are clearing debris.  This is not a river to turn your back on.  Heavy rain the previous day had caused it to rise.

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The deep shadows herald our very special bridge.  In 1593, Ferdinando de Medici commanded that the rather smelly butcher’s shops, used to discharging unwanted produce into the Arno, be replaced by sartorially more elegant jewellers.  And there they remain, to this day.

Above the jewellery shops, on the eastern side of the bridge, runs part of the Vasari Corridor. This amazing secret passageway was built in 1565 for Cosimo de Medici.  Connecting the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace, about 1km away on the opposite side of the river, it assured privacy and protection in those times of intrigue.  During WWII the treasures of the Uffizi were stored in this corridor, for preservation.  Art resides there still. You can clearly see the grilled windows, over the shops, in the photo below.

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Crossing over the bridge to Oltrarno, literally the other side of the Arno, continue along the river bank.  It’s hard not to stop to look back.

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Across the river rises the delicate spire of Basilica di Santa Croce.  With just a short detour you could admire it’s magnificent facade.  Recross the river by graceful Ponte alle Grazie.  In the far distance, snow kissed mountains brush the sky.

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Via de Benci will take you directly to Piazza di Santa Croce.  In Savonarolo’s day, this was a place of execution, and violence is still enacted here in the 3rd week of June each year, when calcio storico takes place.  Roughly combining football and rugby, it is not for the faint hearted.  Headbutting, punching and choking are all allowed.

Basilica de Santa Croce is an altogether more peaceful place, where you will find the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli, among others. The cloisters are renowned for their wonderful frescoes by Giotto.

Retrace your steps to the river, or choose to linger in the maze of streets that lead to the Uffizi. There are too many distractions by far.

Me, I’m drawn back to the spectacle of the bridge.  Spanning the river for all those years, it’s beaten gold resisting all the forces that nature can summon.  But powerless against the lovelocks.

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I hope you enjoyed my first venture into Florence by daylight.  Next week’s walk will be far more strenuous.  There are heights to scale!

In my absence the walks continued to tumble in.  Please take some time to read and enjoy them. Many thanks to all of you for your patience, and continued support.  Now, let’s get the kettle on! I’m sure I saw cake somewhere.

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I hope you’ll join me for more of alluring Florence next week.  Details of how to contribute a walk are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  I’d love to have your company.

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First up we have Eunice with a wonderfully unspoiled bit of Wales :

A discovery walk on the Llyn Peninsula

Closely followed by Jude, with more delicious shots of Lincoln and the cathedral :

Lincoln’s Minster Yard

And there’s also a stunner of a garden walk from my Queen of the Gardens :

Garden Portrait : Trebah in Winter (or A Walk to Alice’s Seat)

Woolly’s still travelling.  It’s like that game…’Where’s Woolly?’

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Jackie’s all ready to party, and when better than Carnaval?

Carnaval and more- Mazatlan, Mexico

What do you know about the Israeli countryside?  Why not let Lisa show you around?

Givat Barfilia

Becky had to get the waders out for this walk!  Well, clean socks and a towel, anyway.  Cute pigs, though!

A three river adventure in the Algarvian hills

And environmental changes are a constant concern on the Algarve’s beaches :

The sands of the Ria Formosa are forever changing

Drake brings a lovely soft palette to our world :

Less colourless

While Jaspa has us climbing a volcano!

The Views from Mount Vesuvius

Do join Nicole and her lovely family in the desert!  You have choices :

Hiking Saguaro National Park

Sabino Canyon : A Hike along the Phone Line Trail

I never can resist the Azores!  I’ll get there one day!  Please say hello to Uncover Travel :

Hike up Ponta dos Capelinhos, Faial 

Beautiful and individual images for you from Jesh :

A Morning Walk

Finally, I’m very familiar with the city walls at York, but not with these in Chester, so thank you, Carol!

Wall Walking

Another wonderful selection, you have to agree.  Wishing you all a good week, with lots of healthy walking.

 

148 comments

  1. What a wonderful peaceful stroll, Jo. The opening image is a gem. If it’d be possible, I’d overlike this post! :_)
    Hugs from the Rhine Valley. x

    1. I’m guessing you mean the one where you can see right through to a blurry river, Elizabeth? (I’m answering this from the drop down, on today’s post 🙂 ) Yes, it is!

    1. I give them a good hard stare till they’ve moved along, Ann. 🙂 Sometimes Mick wanders around flapping his arms as if to shoo people away. Always makes me laugh 🙂

  2. A superlative post, my faraway friend. Wonderful shadows and receding arches of the colonnade. Angles and light in the grilled windows photo. All those reflections. Great composition around the lamppost (?) in the last main photo.

    1. Yes, lamppost 🙂 I was assured I’d be disappointed in Ponte Vecchio, Meg, but far from it. How can anything so tenacious disappoint? It is the loveliest of cities and this little stroll would have suited you very well. Gardens and artworks to follow 🙂 🙂 Saturday morning hugs!

    1. Hi Elaine! 🙂 I’ve forgotten where you disappeared to- Florida? I really loved Florence. It wasn’t especially warm but so very pleasant for February.

  3. I love the description in the comment that your camera was as delirious as you. Such a lovely walk and perhaps we shall need a trip to Florence after seeing all this beauty.

    1. Well I don’t think there are any wild adventures to be had in the immediate vicinity, Sue, but there are plenty of hills and towers to climb to use up the energy. 🙂 Not long now till Africa? 🙂

    1. Oh, Eunice! Nightmare! I know the frustrations of messing up a post. I should possibly delete the original link then? Though it won’t impact on next week.

  4. Welcome back Jo! Hope you had a lovely trip – certainly looks that way! I have only been to Florence once – years ago as a backpacker and the strongest memory I have is of the Ponte Vecchio! Your photos are gorgeous – look forward to reading more about your trip! Have a lovely week 🙂

    1. The legs are tired just thinking about it, Suze! 🙂 🙂 Up to San Miniato (but missed the Gregorian chant 😦 ), Fort de Belvedere and several times round the gardens. A city so worth waiting all this time to see! Thanks, hon.

    1. I’m back in my armchair, Julie, but so very delicious while it lasted. 🙂 🙂 I couldn’t give proper thought to your post last night, against a background of noise and news. 😦 I’ll stop by again when it’s peaceful.

  5. Wow, you have been working fast …. stunning images … and what a fantastic weather you had. My favourite image … is the one with the lamp foot and the bridge in the background (the last).The image of the jewellery shop is great too. Your little camera and you are such a great team. You got the morning light too. No good taking photo in the middle of the day, the light is too strong. Fantastic beautiful post, Jo!!! Have to make my dream come true next year.

  6. Jol, this is delightful and brings so many wonderful memories of my trip to Florence so many years ago. You fill in so many historical gaps…fascinating. Ponte Vechio was a dream which became a reality and I spent ages visiting the jewellery shops there before choosing a gold fan brooch. I too couldn’t help but keep returning to the bridge, just magical.

    1. The Wiki link up at the top of the post gives some interesting information, Annika, and my Lonely Planet on Florence and Tuscany is a walking encyclopedia 🙂 Many thanks for your appreciation!

  7. I want that cake, will there be any left for me? It sound like Jude’s going as well, you’ve started a trend 🙂
    It looks beautiful, just as promised and i can’t wait. I’m loving every photo you post and I’ll have questions a bit nearer the time, hope that’s okay?
    Next please x:-)x

    1. Heaps of cake, sweetheart! You might have to fight Mick for the chocolate ones though 🙂 🙂 Yes- Jude’s planning April 2018! There’s organisation! 🙂 Yes, of course, Gilly! I can’t see how you can fail to love it.

    1. Wiki says that the bridge was inaccessible because of the number of collapsed buildings around it, Andrew. Not sure how that factors but the link is in the post 🙂

  8. That bridge is such an amazing attraction and feat. I forgot it was that old. Bringing back memories, Jo. When I was seventeen I hitchiked from Belgium to Firenze with a friend and slept in a campground up above. I remember scaling some heights! See you next week. 🙂

      1. I am focusing on my thirties in the memoir, Jo, but a little snippet of my earlier adventures might just make it in there somewhere as a flashback or so. 🙂

    1. Just looking at the photos makes me smile, Cathy! I loved it so! 🙂 Have you another post up yet? I know you’re crazy busy! When does Japan happen and any (good) news from Adam?

      1. I bet you did love it! I just posted about the detour, which I see you read, and just now, about Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. I leave for Japan on March 27 and return home on August 8. As for Adam, he’s currently living and working on a banana plantation for 2 months; after that, who knows? How about James?

      2. Well, don’t congratulate me yet. He’s working for food and board, no cash, and he still has all those debts looming, which he had started to pay off during his last job. 😦 Good luck with James, Jo. I hope something good will come soon for him.

  9. What a lovely blog. I love Florence, its buildings, its stones, its gelaterias! It’s the greatest open-air museum in the world I think, and after a few days there I feel a different person.
    I’ve been reading all your blogs but unable to comment as I’ve been abroad and WordPress locked me out because I couldn’t remember my Password and I was using an IPad (which I hate, by the way) and for some reason, we couldn’t communicate at all. Now I’m back home again, my old and trusted desktop just picked up where I left off and all is well.
    I’m so glad you enjoyed Florence.

    1. Thank you for your enthusiasm, Maris! I knew you were traveling so didn’t expect to hear from you. I never post blogs when I’m abroad but if I have a WiFi connection and the time I’ll sometimes comment. There are other things in life though, aren’t there? Who wouldn’t want to throw away the iPad and just enjoy Florence to the full? (I don’t have one anyway 🙂 ) I will try to find your latest post a bit later. Still struggling to catch up 😦

  10. Where’s Woolly Huh???!!! 😀 😀 Your Monday walks Jo, give me a reason and opportunity to post some of the photos taken during our travels, without worrying about a theme. We were within 200 metres of Ponte Vecchio and it was a case of run down and back to avoid missing the bus. Or view it from afar! Running and my feet in general were not up to it, and so viewing from afar was the chosen option. As I said last week…rather envious of you being so close to ‘The Continent’ as we used to call it. However, your post does bring back lots of memories.

    So “Where’s Woolly” this week? In Switzerland! Watch for the post about 11.15 AM your time 🙂

    1. I really needed another day or two, Woolly! Did you make it to Siena? With just one more day that would have been my choice, but we did quite well with what we had. The challenges irk me sometimes. I do prefer to go my own route. And if someone wants to follow, then that’s great! If not, I’ll enjoy the road ahead anyway.
      I’ll check for your walk soon. Thanks a lot for your company. 🙂 🙂

    1. You have so much beauty in Italy, Anna! And despite it being a busy tourist city, the people were so obliging and friendly. That is not always the case. Thanks a lot, hon 🙂 🙂

  11. I’m quite ready for a gentle stroll, I’m sure you’ll be taking us upwards in the Boboli gardens at some point! Love the statues and the clear shot of the reflection of the spire of Basilica di Santa Croce – my favourite of them all. That water doesn’t look very appealing though and despite the blue sky with the wispy clouds it looks quite chilly. I guess that this is the time of year you can get photos in Florence without hoards of people in the way! And did I read Lucca in the comments? Now that is a place I’d like to see 🙂
    Enjoy your walk today – sunshine and showers here!

    1. This was the warmest day, and around 16C, Jude. A cool wind sometimes 🙂 My favourites are my opening photo and the looking back at the bridge one. Yes, you will undoubtedly be dragged to Boboli, and beyond! Am I whetting your appetite yet? And I loved Lucca but Mick wasn’t fussed. Possibly my making him walk the 4km of the wall, and then failing to find a cafe to suit his tastes? No pleasing some folk! 🙂 🙂

      1. We ought to go together – then Mick and OH could find a nice pub/bar/café whilst we walk the wall 😉 16C isn’t at all bad – comfortable walking weather.

      2. I have been looking at day trips from Florence as I think that would be the way to see more of the countryside without driving. And possibly the Cinque Terre too + Lucca by train. Need at least 7 days!

      3. M-i-L seems fine though she now has a care package with someone coming in three times a day to ensure she eats properly. Of course that costs a small fortune so the savings I have managed to accumulate over the last few years will rapidly disappear. Still that is what they are for and at least she can stay in her home for now. I must talk to son about Australia and see what their plans are this year. The year will disappear all too fast otherwise!

  12. Ah Jo, your post and beautiful pictures of Firenze brought back such wonderful memories from my last visit there. Such a very special city and Ponte Vecchio has so much charm. Loved this. xo

      1. It was a while ago Jo, over ten years. But I still remember it like it was yesterday. More recently my sister went back, bought me a gorgeous gold bracelet from the Ponte Vecchio.

  13. What a lovely walk today, Jo. That bridge certainly has a bit of history and it sounds like it does not want to go anywhere 😀 You also got some lovely still water and reflection on that day too, and the wispy clouds overhead look lovely. Lovely shot of the sweet treats too. Hope it is a wonderful stroll into the week for you. It has been awfully busy here for me, and my walk on your Monday walk is more like a run 😦

      1. Life will slow down a bit but it still seems to be busy on the horizon. Probably no time booked off for a while…but I’ll see if I can squeeze in a weekend day trip somewhere at some point 😀

    1. I’m as much, if not more, a nature person than a city one, Eunice, but if you saw the backdrop to Florence… 🙂 Stunning! Please come back next week. I’m literally out of the door with my walking group now but I’ll join you later.

  14. I had been hoping you’d take us around Florence!
    That was a fascinating walk with stunning views. I like the inviting arches in the first shot and the clear reflections from n your more watery views.
    I’m looking forward to next week’s heights. Always a good thing to do from my armchair!

    1. Hiya Debs! A more fabulous setting for a city I never saw. I was captivated by the surrounding mountains, which I hadn’t really expected. Thanks for the kind words 🙂

  15. la primavera sta arrivando e profuma le colline intorno a Firenze, le mimose e gli altri alberi fioriti fanno da cornice da lontano alla tua bella passeggiata sui lungarni….spero. oltre che il panforte ti sarai fermata per il gelato più buono del mondo che si gusta ad una gelateria sul lato destro delponte vecchio!
    un caro saluto, lieta di vedere la mia bella Toscana così ben rappresentata da una amica Polacco.inglese
    ciao bella

    1. In Lucca we saw beautiful magnolias, Annalisa. 🙂 I could wish we had been just a few weeks later to see the wisteria in bloom in the Giardini Gardens but the aspect was magnificent. But that’s for next week! 🙂 Ciao bella, i grazie!

      1. Lucca è famosa per le sue antiche magnolia!più avanti saranno le camelie a stupire! anche le magnolie del mio giardino ( grandissime) sono già fiorite :la bianca stellata, e la soulangeana, rosa,Lucca è a confine con la provincia di Pistoia, centro europeo per la produzione delle piante da fiore, se passi in autostrada da Firenze a Lucca, all’altezza di Pistoia vedrai delle meraviglie! il glicine è ancora presto,aprile-maggio per vederlo in fiore.Vedo che sei entusiasta, ma non potevo affatto dubitarne! Lucca è una elegantissima e aristocratica città, io vado lì a Teatro, nel piccolo gioiello che è il “Teatro Giglio”vicino al Duomo dove dorme la mia bella Ilaria
        un bacione, ciao bella

    2. I just translated this properly and know that we went to the wrong place for gelato 😦 We went to a ‘biological’ one beside the Duomo. The pistachio and chocolate were phenomenal! But now I’ll have to go back 🙂 🙂 We went to Lucca (and Pisa 🙂 ) by train and were amazed at the fields and fields of trees growing.

  16. Oh wow Jo what a wonderful stroll….so much to see, taste and hear. Glad though the smells from the butchers has long gone!

    Oh this is so wonderful I’ve got to go back and retrace my steps before I go exploring the other walks this morning.

    Thank you 😊

    1. I was told that Ponte Vecchio would be a disappointment, Becky, but I didn’t find it so. The glorious skies helped, of course! 🙂 Thanks for your lovely bubbly company. Visitors gone yet? Not bad here this morning so we’re off with the walkers soon.

      1. Glorious skies, and I just love the fact it so ramshackle.

        Enjoy your walk, it is glorious here this morning. Hopefully off to Alcoutim with our last remaining guest. Only a few more days to go when it will just be the two of us again . . .must admit as much as I love my guests I am looking forward to the freedom!!

      2. Hiya, you are probably rushing out the door for your walk now but if you do have a few minutes one of the links isn’t working 😦 ‘Hike up Ponta dos Capelinhos, Faia’ says page not found when I click on it. It takes you to website though so you can find it if you search for Azores. Most odd.

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