Sunday was my second day in Florence. I had pre-booked my ticket for the Ufizzi Gallery so I knew that I had to arrive there just before one o’clock. This left the morning free for a bit of a walk. My aim was to reach the Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view of Florence. I decided to follow the walk ‘From the Ponte Vecchio to San Miniato al Monte’ suggested by my guidebook. If had better Italian I would have known that San Miniato al Monte means St. Minias on the Mountain. Yes, mountain.
On the way to Ponte Vechhio I also passed Dante’s house
and the Bargello museum.
I then found myself back at the River Arno and the Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge in Florence not destroyed by the Nazis during the retreat of August 4, 1944. Along the top of the bridge you can see the small square windows of the The Vasari Corridor. The Vasari Corridor was a private passageway built in the 1500s to connect the Medici’s Pitti Palace on one side of the Arno to the Palazzo Vechhio on the other. It was filled with works of art only ever seen by the Medicis who used the corridor (at the risk of lowering the tone, it reminds me of the secret freeway Homer Simpson gets to use when he becomes a member of the Stone Cutters).
The Ponte Vechhio became home to many gold merchants after the Medicis banned butchers on the bridge in 1593 (they probably didn’t like the smell or the flies up in the Vasari corridor). Today there are still many jewellery shops on the bridge.
Now on the other side of the river my first stop was the Santa Felicita church, one of the oldest in Florence. As you can see the Vasari Corridor runs right in front of it so that the Medicis could attend church without having to mix with the masses. As it was Sunday most churches in Florence were closed to tourists (yes, even Supertourist). On the plus side though the streets were quiet and peaceful between services, with the delightful and haunting sound of chants coming from inside.
The streets were calm and peaceful. They also seemed to get a little hilly. This was OK though, as I knew that the Piazzale Michelangelo was elevated and that I was going to get a great view from there.
Number 19 Costa di San Giorgio – this was the home of Gallileo. I stopped here for a little break – to take in the historical significance of where I was standing, of course.
I then reached Porta San Giorgio, Florence’s oldest surviving gateway (1258).
Halfway up there is what appears to be a private terrace but I joined everyone there taking photos. It was a indication of the kind of views I could expect. Plus, if I didn’t make it, I’d at least have this shot of the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio in the distance.
Finally I reached my destination. I knew I was at the Piazzale Michelangelo because of the huge statue of David in the middle, a few hundred tourists, ice cream vans, American Indian performers…and a Bus Stop. I looked again at my guidebook: “This mainly uphill walk takes in some of the key sights…As a less strenuous option it can be walked in reverse, downhill, by catching the number 12 or 13 bus.”
My walk, however, wasn’t over, as I had still not reached the San Minitao al Monte.
It was just up … these… steps.
Well, it was almost midday…so I made my way back into town. The only thing left for the day was my one o’clock tour of the Ufizzi…one of the most important art museums in the world…just the 6,000 square metres of gallery space…
Needless to say I needed a nap at about 5 o’clock.