Benvenuti!

Experience life in Florence through the words and images of the expats and locals who love their city!

Appreciating Florence over Time

by Sophia Khan published on

A tall, rusticated stone arch embedded in a palace's wall basks in the sunlight emitting a sense of antiquity. These were my first impressions of the backside of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence as seen from my studio apartment. A view revealed through tall windows set below a delightfully frescoed ceiling. What I slowly learned, however, was that while first impressions are often valid responses to places, they need time to develop into something more profound. So it was with my private view of Florence and the city itself.

Via della Ninna

by Andrea Ponsi published on

One of the characteristics of Florence's urban pattern is the recurring presence of an accidental geometry based on acute angles, deriving from the irregular street network. This singularity becomes evident while one is looking upward at the intersection of streets. The strong corners of the gutters and the corresponding voids of the streets meet at their diagonal axis. This “wedge” effect is also evident at ground level in those radial crossings where five or six streets come together, or in the angled edges of almost every piazza. This irregularity enters the interiors of houses and palaces, and repeats itself throughout. And the wedge-shape space of many rooms reverberates through the constant memory of the city's form.

Ponte Vecchio

by Melinda Gallo published on

The first time I came to Florence for a visit I made the rounds of the monuments. I mostly remember seeing the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and crowds of people everywhere. My initial impression of the Ponte Vecchio is that it was small, dirty, and congested. I was only in town for one day, and looking back I wish that I would've had time to contemplate the ponte (bridge) from the other ponti on either side of it. Instead I walked across it and back, peering into the brightly lit vetrine (shop windows) with gold jewelry on display.

I didn’t bring my watercolours with me

by Andrea Ponsi published on

I didn’t bring my watercolors with me. If I had, now, leaning against this railing at Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking the fields towards the Forte di Belvedere, I would take out a sheet of paper, dip my brush in water and mix my colors.

In the Seat of Abundance: Piazza della Repubblica

by Cheryl Tucker published on

If you stay in Florence long enough, you'll find a piazza--one where you feel at home, one that you'll seek out after being away. On my first stay in Florence a few years ago, passing through the centrally located Piazza della Repubblica was part of my daily routine; I thought of it as a "throughway" piazza. The space is quite plain. Unlike Piazza della Signoria, you won't find ornate sculptures of David or Neptune, nor is it bordered by a beautiful Franciscan basilica like the one found in Piazza di Santa Croce. But, as often happens with rituals, I started to like passing through the square. After a couple of weeks, instead of racing through to reach one of the cafés on via Corso, or heading straight for via Calimala toward Ponte Vecchio, I'd stop and sit for a spell on the stone seat at the base of the piazza's only column.

Sitting in Piazza della Signoria

by Lisa McGarry published on

My natural inclination when I go to Piazza della Signoria is to find a spot somewhere around the edge and look into the middle of the piazza, which is like a big container for people and energy. Whether from under the loggia, the steps in front of Palazzo Vecchio, a table on Caffè Rivoire's patio or simply a free bit of curb, I like to watch the chaotic mixture of locals, visitors, children, dogs, horses and pigeons that doesn't change much from one day to another, but always entertains me.

Moments in Piazza Santo Spirito

by Lisa McGarry published on

I look back on my earlier visits to Piazza Santo Spirito with a mixture of affection and nostalgia. The first time I found myself here, tracking down an archive of drawings from a community project I had read about, I had no idea that it would become such a big part of my daily life. Or perhaps it is I who has become part of its life, its story? Each of us passing through the piazza, whether for a single afternoon or a lifetime of mornings, is contributing a new thread to its centuries-old tapestry.

Piazza di Santa Croce

by Melinda Gallo published on

Piazza di Santa Croce is undoubtedly the most visited and photographed piazza in Florence. On any given day, hundreds of tourists pass through the austere piazza where Dante stands guard. Visitors stop to tour the impressive basilica (church) where some of the great Florentines are buried, and then continue on to other important destinations like the Duomo and the Uffizi. One of the greatest features about the piazza is that something always seems to be taking place: if it's not a mercato (market) where one can buy handmade gifts or local produce, it's an annual sporting event like the calcio storico (Florentine historical soccer). Quite a few other festive affairs occur here throughout the year that make the piazza one of the most exciting in Florence.

Corri la Vita

by Melinda Gallo published on

Corri la Vita is an annual gara (race) that takes runners and walkers through some of the most scenic parts of Florence. For the last six years, the organizers of this gara have been raising funds for cancer research. I decided to go for the first time this year to show my support. As the sun was rising from behind the chiesa (church) in Piazza Santa Croce on September 28th, crowds of people wearing sweats, the Corri la Vita T-shirt, running shoes, and their numbers for the gara began to fill the piazza.

Shopping at Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio

by Melinda Gallo published on

The Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio is an outdoor food market in a residential area of Florence near the Santa Croce church. Almost every morning of the week locals browse the bancarelle (stands) to see what produce is in season, look for the best deals, and buy food for their families. I love everything about the mercato: the voices of the merchants announcing their daily specials, the rustling of the customers making their way through the crowded aisles, the smells of the different items on display, and the colorful and appetizing presentations enticing us to look and -- hopefully -- buy.

Contributors

Melinda Gallo
Writer
Melinda Gallo

Lisa McGarry
Writer/Artist
Lisa McGarry

Andrea Ponsi
Architect, Writer, Artist
Andrea Ponsi

Cheryl Tucker
Writer
Cheryl Tucker

Sophia Khan
Designer/Educator
Sophia Khan

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Dining in Florence
Locals and tourists review restaurants, gelaterie, and pastry shops in Florence, and share their favorites with you.
Dining in Florence

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