My one true love of Italy is Florence, known as Firenze in Italy.
I love Florence for so many reasons and one of those reasons is shopping. One of the most famous places for shopping for Italian 18 karat gold in Florence is on the Ponte Vecchio, meaning “old bridge”.
The Ponte Vecchio is located along the Arno River in Florence and is one of the most striking Medieval bridges in Florence as well as a picturesque aspect of the city. For some of the best views over Florence and the Ponte Vecchio take a local bus or be more daring and challenge yourself to walk up to the Piazzale Michelangelo.
If you’ve never been to Florence before, you can locate the Ponte Vecchio from the historical city center where most of the historical attractions are by way of Via Por Santa Maria heading towards the Arno River. If you are on the other side of the river known as the Oltarno (where you will find the Medici’s palace, Palazzo Pitti), walk straight down Via Guicciardini until you reach it.
There are a number of bridges in Florence but the Ponte Vecchio is the most beautiful in my opinion. This bridge survived World War II and also the tragic flood of Florence in 1966. Some of the businesses located on the bridge were damaged, but the structure remained. The Ponte Vecchio used to be inhabited by tanners and butchers that would drain their waste into the Arno River. Then in the 13th century the stores became goldsmith shops.
Your eyes will be opened by all the glitz and glamour of the pieces in the storefront windows as you stroll by. In the city of the Ponte Vecchio you will find the Benvenuti Cellini statue. This statue pays tribute to Benvenuti Cellini who was a well-known goldsmith, among other trades.
Above the Ponte Vecchio, connected to the shops, there is a corridor called the Vasari corridor or the Corridoio Vasariano. It was built back in 1565 and was established so that the Medici family didn’t need to deal with the congestion of the city. It connects from one side of the Arno to the other via the Pitti Palace to the Uffizi gallery.
The Ponte Vecchio is quite the tourist scene during the day but I find it most peaceful and beautiful all lit up at night time. Make sure to take a stroll or ‘passeggiata’ along the river or over the bridge to see it all lit up.
Maybe Florence will steal your heart just like it did mine…
Jennifer Martin fell in love with Italy over 10 years ago when she studied abroad in Florence. She has now returned there 7 times including for her recent marriage in the town of Bucine. Her love and passion for Italy comes not only from her experience of living there, but also her Italian roots. She has traveled all over Italy and has experienced so many beautiful cities, wines, foods and traditions in each region which she loves to share with the whole world. Vino Travels is her blog focused on Italian wines and travel. You can subscribe to her blog or follow her on Twitter , Facebook and Pinterest.
Concierge tip: The ideal place to stay in Florence to experience these wonderful joys is the Relais Santa Croce Florence. The hotel also offers a unique Tuscany Wine Experience package which includes the chance to get a unique behind-the-scenes tour of the exclusive Guicciardini Strozzi Domain in San Gimignano.