Firenze, Italy

Thursday Afternoon Exploring Oltrarno


After we decended the campanile, we walked south and crossed the Arno River to the section of Florence known as Oltrarno, which literally means on the other side of the Arno River.


Firenze Fountain in Piazza de Frescobaldi
Firenze Palazzo di Bianca Cappello

Santo Spirito

This is the church of Santo Spirito in the two photos below. Brunelleschi designed the church to replace one destroyed in a fire in about 1440. It is perhaps the purest example of Renaissance thought because he was able to give his imagination free reign. It is considered a masterpiece of peace and serenity.

I will have to spend some more time here the next time I am in Florence.


Ponte a Santa Trinita

We had crossed the Arno River on the Ponte Vecchio. Now we made our way to the Ponte a Santa Trinita, the next bridge downriver from the Ponte Vecchio.

This bridge, along with all of the others except for the Ponte Vecchio, was destroyed by the retreating Germans during World War II.
The original bridge was built of wood in 1252. It collapsed unter the weight of a crowd seven years later. The stone bridge that replaced it was destroyed by a flood in 1333. The bridge that replaced it collapsed in 1557.
In that same year, Grand Duke Cosimo de Medici commissioned another bridge to be designed by architect and sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati who is said to have used the original designs of Michelangelo for the bridge. Ammannati was responsible for the Fountain of Neptune in Piazza della Signoria.
Four statues, representing the four seasons, summer, autumn, winter and spring, were commissioned to mark the marriage between Cosimo II and Maria Maddalena of Austria in 1608 and were placed on the four corners of the bridge.
As mentioned, the bridge was then destroyed by the Germans during World War II. In 1952, the original stones were dredged from the river and the bridge was rebuilt by R. Gizdulich who used the original designs of Ammannati. The four statues were also dredged from the river. The statues were badly damaged and the statue of Primavera (Spring) was missing its head.
Primavera's head remained lost for twenty years buried in the river's silt until one day the current lifted and rolled it to the bank like an offering from the river to spring.

Firenze Autumn

The sculpture on the south-west corner of the Ponte a Santa Trinita. Autumn by Giovanni Caccini.

Firenze Winter

The sculpture on the south-east corner of the Ponte a Santa Trinita. Winter by Taddeo Landini.

Firenze Il palazzo della Missione (The Palace of the Mission)

This photo was taekn from the same spot as the two above looking at the building to the right, across the road.

Firenze Looking up river from the Ponte a Santa Trinita.

Firenze The Ponte Vecchio.

The south side of the Arno River between the Ponte a Santa Trinita and the Ponte Vecchio.

Firenze A detail of the tower seen in the photo above.
Firenze Looking across the Ponte a Santa Trinita.

Firenze Spring

The sculpture on the north-east corner of the Ponte a Santa Trinita. Spring by Pietro Francavilla

Firenze Summer

The sculpture on the north-west corner of the Ponte a Santa Trinita. Summer by Giovanni Caccini

Exploring Florence

Then we made our way toward the Piazza della Republica. The next few photos are views of Florence along the route we took between the Ponte a Santa Trinita and the Piazza della Republica.

Firenze The church of Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity)

Palazzo Strozzi

The next four photos are from the courtyard of the Palazzo Strozzi, one of the finest examples of Renaissance domestic architecture. It was commissioned by the Florentine merchant Filippo Strozzi and the foundations were laid in 1489 according to a design by Benedetto da Maiano. A year later the project was given to Simone del Pollaiolo, known as Cronaca, who worked on it until 1504 but the Palazzo was only finally finished in 1538 Since the Second World War the Palazzo has been Florence's largest temporary exhibition space. Among the major exhibitions held at Palazzo Strozzi have been the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (1949), 17th century Florence (1986), Gustav Klimt (1992), La Natura Morta Italiana (2003), Botticelli and Filippo Lippi (Italy's most visited exhibition in Italy in 2004) and Cézanne in Florence (Italy's most visited exhibition in 2007).


These wrought-iron ornaments, lanterns, torch holders, and rings on the corners of the Palazzo Strozzi, were designed and made by Niccolò Grosso Caparra, an Italian craftsman, around 1500.

Firenze Palazzo Strozzi courtyard, Ground level.
Firenze Palazzo Strozzi courtyard, Upper stories.

Firenze The golden horse statue in Piazza Strozzi.

Dinner in the Piazza della Republica

When we got to the Piazza della Republica, it was almost 8:00pm, so we walked around it and checked out the restaurant menus. We decided on the Caffe Concerto, which can be seen in the left photo below. It also has a terrific pasticceria, or pastry shop.

Again, by going to the restaurant at 8:00pm, we had no problem getting seated. We had an outdoor table, under the canopy in the piazza. There were other diners there, but it was only about half full. At 9:00pm, the entertainment started and the restaurant began to fill up. The entertainment was a small band with singers who were quite good. We took our time and had a leisurely dinner, listened to some music and were never pressured to clear out to make room for someone else.

We had some wine, an antipasto or a primo, a secondo (with a contorno) and dolce. We are not accustomed to eating the Italian way so usually when we had dinner, we had either an antipasti or a primi, but usually not both. This restaurant also had Risotto Quattro Formaggio on the menu so I had it again. Risotto has become one of my favorite dishes.

The typical Italian dinner menu consists of: antipasti (appetizers,) primi (first courses,) secondi (main courses,) contorni (side dishes to go with the main course, like vegetables, etc.) and dolci (sweets or desserts.) It is different from typical Italian American menus in various ways. For example, you won't find a dish like spaghetti and meatballs on the menu. You might find spaghetti as a primo and meatballs as a secondo, but having the two together is an American innovation.

Firenze Caffe Concerto in the Piazza della Republica.
Firenze Looking out from our table toward the Piazza della Republica.


This was out in the Piazza della Republica. It is a sculpture of the city of Florence, with labels in braile. Notice the huge basilica dome sticking up in the middle/top of the sculpture.


These guys pulled up and parked near the Caffe Concerto and got some dinner nearby. I didn't notice which restaurant they went to. I just thought the little tow trucks were cute, so I took the photo.


Another photo from our table. The brick building peeking out in the background is the Orsanmichele.


You can't get away from the mouse. This Disney store was just down the street from our hotel.

Again tonight, we walked around for a while after eating and then headed back to our hotel for the night.

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Contents © Copyright 2001 Author: Lee Briggs except where noted. All rights reserved.