It seemed like a good idea on our first morning to follow the self-guided walk described in the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Florence and Tuscany Guide Book.
“This walk takes in the Renaissance heart of the city and passes some of its greatest landmarks. Ideally it should be done early on in your visit to get a real feel for the place and if you incorporate a climb up Giotto’s Campanile, you will get a bird’s-eye view of the narrow streets, the characteristic red-tiled rooftops and the many towers that are not so easy to see from ground level.”
The walk began at the centre of the Ponte Vecchio (a short walk from Casa Guidi) where originally butchers and grocery shops were built in the 13th century. These were replaced by goldsmiths at the end of the 16th C and there are still jewellery lock-up shops there today.
Benvenuto Cellini: the most famous goldsmith of all on Ponte Vecchio
The Vasari Corridor with the round windows is not open in February
The River Arno – Looking East from Ponte Vecchio
Looking West – The Ponte Santa Trinita
Proceeding from the Ponte Vecchio along the Via Por Santa Maria (in the UNESCO listed historic centre of Florence) we arrived at The Mercato Nuovo. There has been a market here for centuries.
The thing to look out for here is the “porcellino” (wild boar) on the southern side. This is a copy of the original by Tacca. It is said that if you rub his snout you will return to Florence one day. Both of us are definitely returning :-).
From the market we turned right up a short street to the Piazza della Signoria where there’s an open air sculpture gallery – The Loggia Dei Lanzi – and the Palazzo Vecchio (we had a peep inside), a copy of Michelangelo’s David and a fountain dedicated to Neptune.
Palazzo Vecchio Courtyard
Outdoor Sculpture Loggia
Copy of David by the Palazzo entrance
The Neptune Fountain (1575)
From the Piazza we headed past the Uffizi and down the banks of the River Arno. We had no intention, at this point, to go inside the gallery but we were allowed to go in the shop to buy postcards of paintings we wouldn’t get to see on this trip.
Armed soldiers at the Uffizi
The Ponte Vecchio from the banks of the Arno
Our route then took us to the Piazza San Firenze with the tall, slim tower of the Badia Fiorentina and the former prison now the Bargello Museum and its sculpture collection.
The Piazza San Firenze with Badia Fiorentina on left and Bargello on the right
Eventually we emerged onto the magnificent Piazza del Duomo with the vast Duomo whose dome by Brunelleschi dominates the city, Giotto’s Campanile and the famous Baptistry.
It was amazing to turn the corner and see the magnificent Duomo
We climbed over 410 steps to the very top of Giotto’s Campanile
We had this view of the Duomo from the first level
And this view of the city from the top
We had a bird’s eye view of the Baptistry where we later admired the 13thC mosaic ceiling
A Duomo brolly in the gift shop
After climbing the Campanile we decided it was time to take our lunch before visiting the Baptistry and the Duomo. [To be continued]