In May, the crowds were light as we navigated our way through the Florentine streets. I can’t stress enough how much more enjoyable a trip is when there is less people and great weather. The city is very walkable; in fact, that is how most of the locals get around (we only took a taxi once in the city to the airport).
We got a glimpse of the Gates of Saint Nicholas from across the river on the way to the bridge.
Our journey to the most famous bridge in Italy, Ponte Vecchio, was very lovely and we walked it many times. It is only about a 10-15 minute walk from the Florence Cathedral. We loved the sites and the architecture, while Coco loved the attention he got as he pranced through the town.
The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is the bridge that wouldn’t die. It was the only bridge across the Arno river up until 1218. After a flood destroyed the old bridge, a new bridge (what we see today) was built in 1345. During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the Germans didn’t destroy. The bridge also survived the disastrous flood of 1966. The shops that used to be butchers and fishmongers on the bridge for centuries are now mostly (overpriced) jewelry shops.
Don’t be surprised at all the people who will want to talk to you about your dog, especially those walking their dogs too. We had many people approach us and ask ‘machio o femmina’ (male or female). We later learned they ask this to determine if the dogs will get along or not.
Ponte Vecchio is probably the most photographed spot in Florence. Almost every shop sells a postcard or picture of this bridge. It has been a subject for many artists and painters for centuries. I recommend getting there as early as possible for the best pictures. The bridge is pretty narrow and gets packed easily with tourists.
We continued our lovely walk east down the river visit our next destination. We then turned right on Piazza Giuseppe Poggi and then continued a short walk until we saw the old stone staircase next to the Gates of Saint Nicholas.
This lovely pathway full of flowers and other various plants led us up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. There is a bronze statue that is a replica of Michelangelo’s David on one side of the hill and panoramic views of the city that will take your breath away on the other.
The hike up to the hill was quite tiring and I had to carry Coco for some of it (totally worth it though). If the walk might be too much for you can take a taxi or bus up. You will find some cafes at the top of the hill if you want to get a drink or a bite to eat and rest a bit.
Piazzale Michelangelo is great place to visit day or night. For a more romantic setting I’d recommend visiting at sunset, when you can see Florence transform from day to night.
On our walk back we headed to a restaurant for dinner and came across another green, white, and pink marbled Church called the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. The entire square by the church was filled with these beautiful pink flowers and beautiful well maintained grass (I really enjoy green and open spaces). We saw many people napping or reading in the grass, and musicians playing as we enjoyed the scenery right before sunset. The church is located next to the main train station so it is easy to find.
After a magical day of sight seeing we headed off to dinner with Coco happily knowing he would be allowed inside with us where he would be treated like a little King. Coco was given a little water and a dog treat from the waiter and took a nice nap in my lap. We filled ourselves with handmade pasta and local Tuscan wine for the next few hours as we chatted about how wonderful Italy is for making travel memories with our dog.