by Melinda Gallo

Strolling along the Arno on a Sunday

When I looked outside the windows, I saw the sun shining in a clear blue sky. I quickly got myself ready and decided to go out for a passeggiata (walk). I head down the lungarno toward the Ponte Vecchio along the narrow marciapiede (sidewalk) next to the Museo di Storia della Scienza. I go toward the small outlet across from the Uffizi where people usually get a view of the Ponte Vecchio. As I approach the outlet, I watch people dash across the lungarno to avoid the oncoming cars.

Living in Florence :: Strolling along the Arno on a Sunday

Under the Corridoio Vasariano (Vasari Corridor) are illegal vendors selling tripods, posters, as well as fake handbags and belts. I saw the Carabinieri (Italian military police) parked in the Piazza degli Uffizi, but they obviously haven't made their rounds to chase these guys away yet. A few legal artists are painting in front of their makeshift displays of completed work while one man is bending wire into bracelets and necklaces with different names. I cross the street because the area under the Corridoio Vasariano is full of people walking in both directions.

I look up at the Ponte Vecchio when I cross the street in front of it, and am deterred from going on it due to the number of people already visiting the ponte (bridge). Almost all the shops are closed, but people are walking across in both directions with some stopping in the middle area to look both ways down the Arno.

I walk down the even narrower marciapiede along the Arno while cars and motorini (scooters) whiz by me quickly. I try to look back at the Ponte Vecchio, but have to keep my eye on the road in front of me. I cross in front of the Ponte di Santa Trinità, which leads to via Tornabuoni, and continue along the lungarno.

The marciapiede is wider on this side of the ponte, and must accommodate both pedestrians and biciclette (bicycles). I look at the couples walking hand-in-hand as they come toward me. I move out of the way for a few well-dressed women pushing passeggini (strollers). A bicicletta comes up behind and when I hear the bell ring, I move to one side of the marciapiede to let her pass.

I continue walking down the lungarno and cross in front of Ponte alla Carraia, which leads to one of my favorite gelaterie (ice cream shops). I admire the Chiesa di San Frediano in Cestello in the distance, but continue walking down the lungarno.

When I get to Ponte Vespucci, I cross over it to take pictures of the water falling down the embankment along with the three other ponti in the distance. The sound of the water crashing down is pleasing, and I'm not the only one who stops to admire the cascata (waterfall).

As I walk along the lungarno on the other side of the Arno toward the Ponte Vecchio, I look up at the Cestello and think about visiting the chiesa (church), but I realize that on Sundays they're having mass. I've been wanting to visit the Cestello, but haven't found the right moment yet, and unfortunately today is not the day either.

I walk up to the Ponte Santa Trinità and cross over it to get a good look at the Ponte Vecchio. Some people are taking photos of the Ponte Vecchio, so I move to the street so as not to interrupt them. I notice a few men in a canotto (canoe) rowing below the Ponte Vecchio, and I stop to watch them.

When I get to the Corridoio Vasariano, I see San Miniato on the foothill in the distance. The Carabinieri must have come by because all the illegal vendors have disappeared. In the photo, it looks like the streets were empty, but in fact, I was fortunate to snap it while no one was walking under the Corridoio Vasariano.

While I'm walking back to the piazza in front of our apartment, I cross paths with more people heading toward the Ponte Vecchio. As I go upstairs to get ready for lunch with my suoceri (in-laws), others are continuing their stroll in Florence. Some people who live nearby come to the centro (downtown area) to have a passeggiata while others might be hoping to find a few open shops to take advantage of this season's saldi (sales).

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