The second half of my daily morning walk while in Florence. Previous post: Florentine Routine: Part I In this post, we’re continuing down the Oltrarno,
From Via de’ Bardi, turn slightly right to Borgo San Jacopo, and continue until you arrive at Piazza de’ Frescobaldi’ keep right and move toward Ponte Santa Trinita. You can pause in front of Piazza de’Frescobaldi 1, which housed the Ministry of the Navy during Florence’s tenure as the capitol of the Kingdom of Italy (from 1865-1871).
If you’re in the mood for a sweet snack, I recommend Gelateria Santa Trinita, which is directly across the street.
There have been several bridges at this spot, but floods have washed them away.
The most famous incarnation of Ponte Santa Trinita as built from 1567 to 1569. It featured statues at either end of the bridge—allegorical figures of the four seasons (added in 1608 to celebrate the marriage of Grand Duke Cosimo II de’ Medici with Maria Magdalena of Austria. The Grand Duke’s childhood teacher was Galileo, by the way).
In 1944, the Nazis blew up Ponte Santa Trinita as they retreated from Florence.
What we walk across today is a reconstruction of the Renaissance-era bridge (rebuilt in 1958).
The bridge ends at Via de’ Tournabourni, a street lined with high-end shops–Dior, Balenciaga, Valentino, et. al. The first of these shops you’ll see overlooks the Arno and busy Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli. This imposing, crenallated 13th century structure, the Palazzo Spini Feroni, belongs to Salvatore Ferragamo. There’s a Ferragamo museum here as well that celebrates Ferragamo’s work and the company’s history.
Just across the street (at a bit of the diagonal) from Palazzo Spini Feroni rises Basilica di Santa Trinita. This church was founded in the 11th century, reconstructed in the 14th century, with the façade added in 16th century). As the church has been patronized by a number of powerful Florentine families throughout the centuries, it’s highly decorated in a number of artistic styles.
In the center of Piazza Santa Trinita stands a column—called the Column of Justice–imported from the Roman Baths of Caracalla and erected here in the 16th century. The pope had sent it as a gift to Cosimo I de Medici (1519-1574), the first Gand Duke of Tuscany.
Ducking just behind the Palazzo Spini Feroni you’ll find a narrow street. This, Bargo Santi Apostoli, is one of my favorite streets to wander in Florence. It’s narrow and bendy, and it’s crowded with ancient buildings. It’s always a bit dark (because of the looming torres), and twisty alleys branch off from it. It’s populated with florists, art galleries, and other businesses.
As you pass through this corridor, keep your eyes out for s small piazza on the right: it’s Piazzetta del Limbo, which features Chiesa dei Santi Apostoli, on the left. Although it’s claimed that Charlemagne founded this church, he didn’t; however, it’s an 11th century church, which makes it one of the oldest churches in Florence. The church faces the Piazza del Limbo. It’s named for the cemetery that once stood here. In some Christian theologies, Limbo is a kind of borderland between Heaven and Hell where children reside should they die before baptism. In Medieval Florence, children who died before baptism were buried in this space.
Nearby, there’s an inscription, a bas relief of the Virgin Mary, and a carving of Jesus Christ on a wall that belongs to the 16th century Palazzo Borgherini-Rosselli del Turco. The inscription is far too faded for me to read, and I’ve yet to see a transcription. There must be one out there, so I will certainly keep looking and update this post once I find one.
Where Bargo Santi Apostoli spills out onto Via Por Santa Maria, go left. Via Por Santa Maria, often crowded, offers plenty of shops for sportswear, cosmetics, leathers, and ceramics.
Unless you’re in the mood for a shop, just walk down a block to Via Vacchereccia. A quick right will take you directly to Piazza dell Signoria.
Linger here to people-watch, gaze at the stunning monuments, or, if it’s not too ealy, enjoy a Campari and soda or a Negroni at one of the many cafes bordering the piazza. Or you could just turn right and follow the flow of people down Via dei Calzaiuoli to Piazza del Duomo.
If you like this post, or have questions / corrections, please let me know in the comments!
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