Today was all about going to the Michelangelo Square. This meant crossing the famous Ponte’ Vecchio. Before any of that though, a thorough breakfast would be essential!
I was told by one of the other travelers about a small cafe that did a decent breakfast. overlooking the Piazza Dell’Indepenzia, on the corner of Via 27 Aprile, is Cafe Delixee’. They certainly did a decent bacon and eggs and didn’t mind me swapping the toast for pancakes and maple syrup.While I ate, an American lady sitting at the next table couldn’t help but comment on the onset of homesickness that the sight of my breakfast had brought forth. I know what a lot of you are saying, “You cant mix sweet and savoury!”, I can only say don’t knock it until you try it.
I walked from the Plus Hostel through Florence to the Ponte’ Vecchio. The Ponte’ Vecchio is lined with jewelers and giftshops today as it is a tourist hotspot. It is lined with an architectural mish-mash of shops that look as though they were squeezed in and expanded. I don’t think it is particularly pretty, but it certainly has character.
You will pay more for food in this area, and Gelato is no exception. The bridge is said to have been spared by Hitler during WWII while all the other bridges along the Arno were destroyed. It hasn’t always stood in its current form either. It has been washed away twice, first in 1117 by flood then again in 1333. It used to be lined with butchers back then and it is also said that the term “Bankruptcy” originated here. When a vendor was unable to pay his debts, the table that was used to display their products was physically broken, Wikipedia tells me that this practice was called “Bancorotto”.
After the Ponte’ Vecchio, I walked up Costa San Georgio and thanks to an unintentional detour( that made my walk a lot longer) I found myself alongside Belvedere Fort(Forte di Belvedere). If I return to Florence, I will certainly visit this beautiful site. It was initially built as a fortification for the Medici family by Grand Duke Fernando I De Medici. It has beautiful gardens and boasts some of the most spectacular views of Florence. It is now used for art exhibitions.
While walking alongside the Belvedere, I was presented with a quintessential view of an Italian road. As luck would have it, I noticed a Vespa coming up the hill. What were the chances of that… Okay so they were pretty high, Still you know what I mean, never the less, very cool, I whipped out my camera and clicked away.
I continued toward Michelangelo Square and walked up what felt like one of the longest stepped paths I had encountered to date. The steps are not tall, but are a few feet apart, I would imagine this being for horses or for troops. It was similar to something I encountered at the Prague Castle. Although the path was only 150m long, the steady incline does take it out of you. At the top you will be happy to know there is a Gelato stall and the view from Michelangelo square is gorgeous.
Piazzale Michelangelo was built in 1869 during the “rebirth” of Florence. this was when Florence was the capital of Italy and the whole city was being renewed. At the centre of the square is Michelangelo’s David. A bronze copy of the original. While having a character of its own, it doesn’t have the same magic found from the original. The site is well worth a visit, If you do make your way up here, you may want to check out the Basilica di Miniato al Monte… That was something I didn’t do.
After getting my photo challenge done, Pose like David, I made my way back down, this time with a more direct route. There wasn’t much else to tell from the days aventure, but I did stumble across one of the most incredible jewelers I’ve ever seen. I now wish I had taken the name of the place. Understandably, they didn’t allow photographs in the store. They had some of the most amazing display rings. One of the rings was about 5cm tall and was a miniature sculpture of a mountaintop castle with a dragon resting on the tower guarding a diamond. You would never wear the piece, but it blew my mind.
To finish the afternoon I took a slow stroll through Florence back to the hostel for some much needed rest.