Florence is a city that you simply must have seen. Fortunately, the most important sights in Florence are located so close together on foot that you can combine them during a city walk.
Anyone who travels to Florence, has a visit to and on the Ponte Vecchio, one of the most famous sights of Florence, scheduled for sure. We were also drawn to the oldest bridge in the city and I was excited to see the landmark.
At the place where today the world-famous bridge stands, a crossing over the Arno existed for a very long time. In 1333 a flood destroyed the existing wooden bridge and a stone bridge was built. It took about 12 years to complete the segmental arch bridge. In 1345 the stores were built along the bridge without any gaps. The entrance of the stores faces the bridge, and on the river side there is a kind of balcony.
Originally, the tanners and butchers used the stores on the bridge. It was not until 1565 that a decree was issued that goldsmiths should work on the bridge. These would not produce waste and throw it into the Arno. In addition, Cosimo I de’Medici had a vasaric corridor built across the row of stores, connecting Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti.
If you walk across the bridge today, you will still only find jewelry and jewelry stores here. I must admit, I didn’t like it so much on the bridge. It was crowded, cramped, noisy and even the view into the displays of the shop windows showed only products that were tailored to the needs of tourists. I had honestly hoped that one would also see something extraordinary and here crafts and not consumption would be in the foreground.
I liked it more to look from the bank of the Arno and the next bridge to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. From there you can look at the building more precisely and much more undisturbed.
Fontana del Porcellino – the boar with the polished snout
Not far from the Ponte Vecchio, on the edge of the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, we come across the sculpture of a boar, a less known sight in Florence. The sculpture is based on a copy of a marble sculpture given in 1560 by Pope Cosimo I de’Medici during a visit to Rome.
Legend has it that touching the boar’s nose brings good luck. Today, 100s of hands daily stroke the boar’s nose so that it shines smoothly polished. The legend also says that you should put a coin in the pig’s mouth after rubbing its nose. If the coin falls behind the grate on the ground is perfect luck.
Discover Florence sights: Piazza della Signoria
Our way led us further to a central square in Florence, Piazza della Signoria.
For a long time, the political center of the city was located here. Public executions took place here and the parliament met in Palazzo Vecchio.
The Palazzo Vecchio is, I feel, one of the most interesting buildings in the square. The palazzo was built from 1299, from 1314 the parliament met here and the deputies use the building as a place to sleep. Perhaps this explains the appearance of the building, which for me almost resembles a castle. The people working there should be protected from attacks of the population.
Even from the outside you can see today that the floors were used differently. There are hardly any windows on the first floor, where the members of the parliament met. On the second floor the Council of Hundred met and on the second floor there were residential and service rooms. The tower is 94 meters high and you can use it very well as a “signpost” in the city.
Today, Palazzo Vecchio houses the city hall of Florence. I find impressive the Lion’s Gate and the copies of some statues of Michelangelo and Baccio Bandinellis that stand in front of the palace.
A little highlight on the side – we were out and about in Fürth some time ago. The city hall of Fürth, which we were allowed to visit there, was modeled after the Palazzo Vecchio.
When you are in the square, you should not miss to take a closer look at the Loggia dei Lanzi. Here is a small open-air museum with many wonderful statues. But also the other buildings around the square are worth seeing. We stood here for quite a while and admired the interesting architecture.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
For me, one of the most impressive ensembles I have seen in a long time is in Florence. Unfortunately, we had not taken care of tickets in advance and there was no possibility during our time in Florence to take a tour, climb the dome or visit the museum.
The nave holds about 30,000 people and when you see the dimensions, you can understand that it is one of the largest churches in Europe.
Until the 13th century, a few smaller churches were sufficient for the inhabitants of the city. However, when the construction of cathedrals began in the cities of Pisa, Venice and Sienna, they wanted to remain “competitive” and decided to build a cathedral as well (1296). It was important to build the largest cathedral in Tuscany and thus create a visible monument.
The existing Episcopal Church was surrounded by a new building for this purpose, so it could continue to be used, and the west facade was created. With the death of the master builder, work on the unfinished facade came to a halt. The next master builder focused his work on the construction of the bell tower. But he too died before the tower was completed. His successors changed the plans and so the tower became only 85 meters high instead of the originally planned 110-115 meters.
Until the construction was finally completed in 1887, countless master builders worked on the church – it was redesigned, demolished and rebuilt… Then finally the ensemble stood as you can admire it today: the nave, the tower, the baptistery.
We walked around the church and marveled at the building. Simply beautiful! Yes and I realize, I just have to go to Florence again and then not only in the church, but also on the observation deck on the dome.