The Santa Trinita Bridge is where I spend a lot of my time people watching, viewing the sunsets, and catching the cool summer breezes. This bridge has had its share of hardship having been rebuilt several times over the centuries. In 1570, the construction of the bridge as designed by Ammanati was completed, after having collapsed several times due to rot and flood. This bridge was constructed in stone at the direction of Cosimo I de Medici. In 1608, to celebrate the marriage of Cosimo II to Magdalene of Austria, the four statues were added.
These statutes represent the four seasons. The statues were the work of: Pietro Francavilla-Spring, Giovanni Caccini-Summer and Fall, and Taddeo Landini-Winter. In 1944, the bridge was destroyed again by the bombs of German soldiers. The bridge was reconstructed to the exact design in 1958 using the exact stones recovered from the Arno.
The head of Primavera seemed to be lost forever, but was finally recovered from the river in 1961, during maintenance of the Arno. I am so happy, as Primavera is my favorite! These statues and this bridge are stunning! Be sure to visit it when you come to Florence. You can take the best photos of the Ponte Vecchio from here and see the beautiful sunsets. You will probably catch me there at sunset!
As a side note, I watched the movie The Miracle at Sant’Anna this weekend, and the marble head found in the man’s closet is the head of Primavera! The soldier carries it with him throughout the movie. I think Spike Lee might have used his creative license in that part, but the story and the movie of the Buffalo Soldiers is excellent!
Riding trains has officially become my favorite mode of transportation. The trains in Italy are usually comfortable, although you will find some regional trains that are hot, dirty, and crowded.
Nevertheless, for the most part, it’s great.
There are two train systems in Italy, the Trenitalia and Italo. Trenitalia runs national, international, and regional trains, and Italo runs fast trains between major Italian cities. Some very small cities have their own systems, and I can’t speak to those. But recently we took a small train through the Serchio Valley from Lucca to Bagni di Lucca and the scenery was stunning and the small train, very nice.
The trains in Italy can get you almost anywhere. Some tiny towns require a train trip and a bus. The stations are always exciting, especially the larger ones.
My favorite part of train travel is looking out the window at the stunning scenery that passes by. I try to take photos, but usually it is not so successful. I try to read, as I usually do on airplanes, but the countryside pulls me in. In the distance, you can see walled hilltop towns, castles, animals, fields of poppies or sunflowers, or the sea.
I used trains in the States sometimes to go between Washington D.C. and New York or Boston and New York and enjoyed it there, but the expense and lack of availability doesn’t make it a viable transportation option very often.
When you’re visiting Italy, instead of renting a car, which I strongly advise against, take a train or two. It’s part of the experience and I think you’ll love it!
Italians take their holidays in August before school starts. Mostly they head to the seashore, and all that is left in Florence according to the Florentines are “I Francese ei cani”. (The French and the dogs). As I walk through the streets I can’t help but thinking they are right as I hear so many people speaking French and leading their dogs around.
Sales start at the beginning of August, so if you visit here then you will find that a nice surprise. Many restaurants, shops, cafes, and stores close for a week or two, or sometimes for the entire month.
You really can’t count on anything being opened in August. That is not to say that everything is closed, and as a tourist, it might not interfere with your visit at all since there are plenty of places to chose from, but as a local, I can’t always go to my local bakery, butcher shop, or favorite restaurant assuming it is going to be open.
August 15th is a National Holiday called, Ferragosto. On this day, most everything is closed, although there are festivities in the cities and villages to celebrate this day.
Other cities in Italy are even more “closed” than Florence. Because of the tourist industry in Florence, there is more opened than most places. When traveling to some small places, beware that you might find it a ghost town!