Ponto Vecchio is Florence’s most famous bridge over the Arno River, and the only one not bombed in the second world war. (I borrowed the picture from a website on famous cities.) It is one of the many places we visited today. Originally, it housed butcher shops because it was easy to dispose of unwanted parts in the river, but since the Medici era it has been lined with gold and silver stores and has a statue of Benvenuto Cellini the master goldsmith of the Renaissance. I have to say, I love the earrings, and I will be going back. Above it is the Vasari corridor which the Medici family built as a private enclosed passageway connecting their Pitti Palace home to their offices on the other side of the river. (source: Rick Steve`s Italy 2012)
But no–this is not my number one reason to visit Firenze.
Back to my story. Being in Florence is simply wonderful. And never, I have to say, has the word `wonderful`been less effective for me. The sights, music, art, people…the ambience of Firenze is breathtaking. I`m trying my darndest to reduce it into words, but it`s an impossible task. I`m scribbling, hoping to communicate at least a glimpse of my experience. If you extrapolate every superlative I use, ten times, you will be closer to the truth.
The second day of Wine Town, the international wine tasting festival, was dare I say it –wonderful. As the sun set we listened to a string jazz quartet in a palace courtyard lined with tables of wine bottles. My preference is Chianti classico. We sipped and listened to the musicians in the warm Mediterranean air, humid in an oddly comforting way that welcomes and holds you in its embrace. People mingled and clustered chatting with friends. Couldn’t help but notice that no one would sit in front of us. They would come and take the chair and move it so that they could not impede our view. It did not matter to them that the rows would be disrupted. What mattered to them was being polite. It’s unbelievably warm in Italy and I’m not talking air temperature.
But that’s not the number one reason to visit Florence. Well, maybe.
Behind the musicians was a wall of life size statues that distracting me. Bacchus was lounging nude on one side. Opposite him was a woman straddling an urn with a very large open mouth. The suggestiveness of which was not subtle. In between the two was another nude woman holding up her nipples. I’m guessing it’s not a bible story. Would you put a naughty story in your courtyard? I’m wondering. I know there ‘s a good tale here, but I can’t quite get it. Perhaps I need another glass of wine.
But that’s not the number one reason to visit Florence.
Back at the apartment we’re winning our battle with mosquitoes. Since our arrival the little beasts have been dining on our bodies mercilessly (see post). We purchased special devices (zanzariere) you plug into the wall that keeps them at bay (thank you for that tip, Rick Steves). I have at least a hundred bites on my face. But we won!
And that’s definitely not the number one…
But this is. The number one reason to visit Florence is that all the major sites are within walking distance. At first the maze of streets were incomprehensible to me. Yeah, I admit I’m pretty useless with maps. But the city is beginning to make sense. Two short blocks to the Palace Strasse for affordable cappuccino, newspapers and beautiful art magazines, continue straight and… You get the idea. Everything is close. You don’t need to get on a bus or use a taxi. You can walk everywhere within twenty minutes. And, many of the streets are only for pedestrians. So civilized. So Firenze.