Thursday, October 15, 2015

Strolling around Florence

Florence is such a compact, walkable city. I think we've only taken the bus within the city twice, and once was because my leg was hurting, and I didn't want to walk uphill. Here are some views of the city that we see on our strolls:

Here's the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). In the 1500s, upset with the smells and the offal in the water, the Medici Duke banned the butchers from the bridge, installing goldsmiths there instead. (Some stories say fishermen, instead of butchers, but maybe it was both?) Today, the bridge is still lined with jewelry shops. It is the only bridge that the Germans did not blow up in World War II as they were forced from the city.

The Palazzo Vecchio assumed the name of the "old palace" when the Medicis bought and extended the Pitti Palace, across the bridge, in 1549. It also at one time housed the leaders of the city, who were collectively known as the signoria, so the main plaza of the city is known as Piazza Signoria. You can see a copy of the David in the photo, but the original is in the Accademia Gallery. Good gelato around here, though, if a bit overpriced.

And here's a view of lovely Santa Maria Novella...

Around Florence, we sometimes see no-entry signs that have been modified by a local street artist. Of course, defacing traffic signs is illegal, but as his work grew in popularity, the city began to look the other way.

And these shots are from our neighborhood. (OK, I cheated. A few are taken from our window, not while walking.)

And here I am, looking out of our window. (It's the third floor in Italy, where numbering begins ground-floor, first floor, second, etc.)

I could spend hours at the windows watching life on the piazza, crowded with tourists taking photos, with phones, cameras, and cameras mounted on selfie sticks.  Occasionally, they have to dodge taxis, horse-drawn carriages, or ambulances.

What the photos don't capture is how this all mingles with the sounds of Florence--the frequent tolling of the church bells, the clip-clop of the horses' feet, the police and ambulance sirens, the murmured conversations and laughter, and, of course, the inevitable obnoxious burst of sound from the motorcycles, intruding abruptly on your ears, then whining away with the doppler affect.  I love it all!

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