Although I love to wander around the city of Florence, it would not be my first choice to live in the historic center. After a day in the busy old town of Florence, I like to take the tram back to my little neighborhood just outside the center.
I can be found regularly downtown of course, and sometimes I get off the tram the stop before the station, at Leopolda and take a stroll along the river Arno towards the historic center. For more than 2000 years the river has been the lifeblood of Florence’s which divides the city in half in more ways than one. In the north, there are the most important religious and political buildings, large squares and luxury shops. On the south bank, you find the characteristic Oltrarno neighborhood, which literally means the other side of the Arno, with its narrow streets, artisan shops, and beautiful gardens.
It was a quiet December afternoon when I took a walk starting on the Lungarno Vespucci and along the Arno towards the city center, left and right of the river in the streets are buzzing with activity, but for now I hardly notice it when I pass the US consulate on my way to the Ponte Vespucci.
Only when I get closer to the next bridge, Ponte alla Carraia, and the dam where people used to fish back in the old days, it’s starting to get slightly busier and I’m suddenly not the only one who is taking photos.
The next bridge, Ponte Santa Trinita, offers stunning views of the Ponte Vecchio and is, therefore, a perfect place for a selfie. The Ponte Vecchio, built in 1345, is the only original old bridge in Florence. All the other bridges were destroyed during WWII and rebuilt after the war on the original pillars.
I usually don’t continue all the way to the Ponte Vecchio, I prefer to admire the bridge from a distance, and I turn left to the luxury shopping street Via de’ Tornabuoni and from there to one of the streets that lead further in the center. Or I cross the river via the Ponte Santa Trinita to the Oltrarno, it just depends on where I’m going and what I feel like. In Florence you can literally go in all directions.
In case you do decide to continue your walk along the Lungarni and passed the Ponte Vecchio, you will arrive at the Ponte alle Grazie, where you can admire the Ponte Vecchio from the other side. If you cross the bridge, it is only a short walk to the beautiful Giardino Bardini, or if you still have some energy left, the Giardino delle Rose or Piazzale Michelangelo, where you can gaze at the city below from above.