Along The Arno

Ambling along the banks of the Arno was one of our favourite things to do in Florence and the best way to see the city. Our apartment was steps away and perfectly positioned to take maximum advantage of the river and its views.

05.28.08 - Florence

05.28.15 - Ufizzi

05.28.17 - Florence

Despite its well-deserved reputation as a tourist magnet, we found ourselves irresistibly drawn to the Ponte Vecchio. A higgledy piggledy three storey bridge full of jewellery shops jutting periously over the edges it is a Florence highlight. Even the Nazis and Hitler appreciated this bridge. When they retreated at the end of World War 2 they destroyed all of Florence’s other routes across the Arno but left the Ponte Vecchio untouched.

05.28.13 - Ponte Vecchio

The bridge was built in 1345 and from a distance looks as though it should still have the original blacksmith and butchers shops of the medieval period. The Medici dukes objected to the stench of dead meat and had the butchers replaced by the goldsmiths and silversmiths who still occupy them today.

05.28.14 - Ponte Vecchio

05.28.16 - Ponte Vecchio

It must be said though, that unless you have a penchant for overpriced and fairly tacky gold jewellery the bridge is best appreciated by strolling briskly across (or from afar!). One member of our family, magpie like, is always attracted by any sort of tourist tat so a quick march over the bridge was out of the question for us.

05.28.18 - Ponte Vecchio

05.28.20 - Ponte Vecchio

05.28.21 - Ponte Vecchio

We found lots of artists and other artisans selling paintings and other bits and pieces on the river banks just beyond the bridge. Son was captivated by a man making motorbikes out of old wire. Needless to say we came away with our very own motorbike and all watched enthralled as the man moulded Son’s name across the handlebars. After firing a barrage of questions at the man, Son discovered he also worked in a bar/gelateria across the street and when we returned later that day, having recognised his new friend, the very kind man arrived with a tray of gelato in a multitude of flavours for Son to sample. A friend for life!

05.28.23 - Florence

05.28.24 - Florence

Another of our Florence favourites was also steps from the Ponte Vecchio – the Mercato Nuovo. A bustling market selling leather goods, handbags and other tourist trinkets for us it was all about Il Porcellino. A bronze sculpture and fountain they say that a rub of the boar’s snout and a coin inserted into his mouth guarantees a return trip. We were also seriously impressed with a man near the market who was a sewing machine whizz – he stitched Son’s name on a belt while we waited – super impressive.

05.28.25 - Ponte Vecchio

05.28.59 - Florence

05.30.46 - A new belt

On our last evening in the city (and most other evenings too) we strolled over the Ponte Vecchio in the darkness. Quirky by day it is more beautiful by night when the vast numbers of tourists have dispersed and the shops are closed up. You can see the shutters and building details much more clearly. Add to that a mellow atmosphere, great views of the city by night and a musician playing in the middle of the bridge and it makes for a great place to hang out. A great place to spend your last perfect evening in Florence too….

05.30.47 - Ponte Vecchio view

28 thoughts on “Along The Arno

  1. The Ponte Vecchio is about the only place I can remember from my trip to Florence many years ago Joy! I remember it to be a busy, bustling place but I had no money then to buy too much which was probably just as well! So good that your son found plenty to do there too – the wire motorbike looks impressive. I would have a field day in the markets! Would make a good place for buying Christmas presents I would think – it’s all getting rather close for comfort and I still have lots of things to organise! Hope you have a lovely weekend 🙂

    • The motorbike was a big hit – now sitting proudly on his souvenir shelf! I love a good market abroad – there were so many great little bits and pieces. I know exactly what you mean about Christmas too Rosemary – I am procrastinating, reading travel blogs and such like when I should be getting organised!! Enjoy your weekend too.

  2. It really does look lovely there. Florence has long been on my travel list but goodness knows when I might make it there. I wonder if the Pulteney Bridge was inspired by the Ponte Vecchio.

    • Never thought about it before but there is definitely a similarity between the Pulteney Bridge and the Ponte Vecchio – although my pictures of the former are shrouded in gloom and grey skies! Florence is an amazing city – keep it on your list just in case!!

  3. A beautiful tour! I have always wanted to go, but have yet to get there. Last time we were in Italy (last summer) we were so busy by the pool and visiting wiineries, we did not get there. Oh well… next time!! 🙂

  4. I’ll admit I’ve heard of the Ponte Vecchio, but I never knew what it was. BTW – the night photo of the river is fabulous! 🙂

  5. I’ve been to Firenze a few times, and have also always admired the Ponte Vecchio from afar… thanks for showing me what a walk across the bridge ACTUALLY looks like. It’s not quite what I imagined, I must admit. I think I’ll stick to faraway views. 😉

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