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Digital Subscriptions > Italia! > Mar 2019 > Florence


Staying in the heart of Renaissance Florence, by its oldest bridge, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the city’s magnificent heritage, says Amanda Robinson


Image © Lungarno Collection

Clockwise from top left: Bikes for guests at Hotel Lungarno; see the sights in a Florentine tuk- tuk; Ponte Vecchio shopping; sushi at Fusion Bar; Captain Doriano with his boat in the fi shing port of Gorino; the ubiquitous symbol of the Medici family; view over Ponte Vecchio from Hotel Continentale; San Miniato Abbey in the hills; shoes of silver screen stars at the Ferragamo Museum

Once the only Florentine bridge across the River Arno, built at the river’s narrowest point, the Ponte Vecchio is made of stern stuff (and I’m not just talking about its stone construction), for not only do a jumble of tiny shops cling tenaciously like limpets to its buttermilk walls, it has withstood some floods, been rebuilt after other floods and more recently was the only bridge in Florence to avoid being destroyed by retreating Nazis during the Second World War. From a simple wooden bridge in Roman times to the stone construction of 1345, history has seen it reshaped to serve the needs of the times, and it is a symbol of Florence famous the world over.

In the 14th century it was a hub for tanners, blacksmiths and butchers’ shops (the river was the ideal way to get rid of their waste). These noisome trades were evicted at the end of the 16th century when jewellers and goldsmiths took up residence, and so it remains to the present day. Linking the Oltrano, or south side, of Florence to the city centre, the 16th-century addition of the Vasari Corridor on top of the existing shops served as a discreet conduit between the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace to allow the Medici rulers to traverse the city in privacy and safety.

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About Italia!

Our new issue will take you from the chilly alpine splendour of Courmayeur in Valle d’Aosta right down to Sicily – visit the majestic Valley of the Temples near Agrigento or stay nearby at the Verdura Resort. A recent fl ying visit to Florence inspired our ‘48 Hours’ feature this month; from new discoveries at the Duomo to a new way of getting around (by tuk-tuk), this venerable city is always a pleasure to visit. And, turning to another alternative mode of transport, we take a tour around Lake Garda by e-bike.