by Melinda Gallo

Piazza Duomo now a pedestrian area

By 10am this morning I was walking down via dei Neri toward the Uffizi. I had planned to visit the Palazzo Vecchio because today is La Giornata del Fiorentino (Florentine Day) when they offer free visite guidate (guided tours) for residents. But because it was only a cloudy day and I felt like staying outside, I decided to walk toward the Duomo where some important festivities were taking place. Today all the streets around the Duomo are now closed to make the area pedonale (pedestrian). I had gone to the Duomo yesterday to take a few foto (pictures) with cars, buses, and motorini (scooters) passing by for the last time before this historic change.

Living in Florence :: Piazza Duomo now a pedestrian area

As I walked down via Calzaiuoli, I came across crowds of people walking toward me: families with babies in strollers and children holding colored balloons. I noticed the beautiful bandiere (flags) around the Orsanmichele chiesa (church), which I had never seen before.

When I arrived in front of the Duomo, I immediately headed for the marble steps of the chiesa to look out at the crowd from above. People were walking along via Martelli and via Cerretani, bikes were trying to get through the crowds, and local and national TV crews were filming the piazza. I was truly amazed to see the streets so crowded without a single car in sight.

I stood in in the middle of the street where via Martelli and via Cerretani meet and pass next to the Duomo. The smell of castagne (chestnuts) being toasted filled the air. People seemed happy and excited to be able to walk around the streets without any cars around. The crowds made way for an ambulanza (ambulance) when it put its siren on and drove through the crowd to turn down via Cerretani toward the stazione (train station).

I saw a group of photographers taking foto of a large white car on via Cerretani. I stood where I was and had a feeling that the car would come toward me. Within minutes it began to slowly approach me and I pulled out my macchina fotografica (camera). I took the foto shown here of our new sindaco (mayor), Renzi, as he drove for the last time down via Cerretani. I watched as he made his way through the crowds and turned left down via Martelli.

I walked around the Battistero and headed toward the Loggia del Bigallo where I stood on one of the few cement panchine (benches) to get a better view. The sky cleared up a little and the sun was shining brightly. I took a few more foto and watched the crowd that gathered around the Florentine singer Riccardo Marasco as he sang a song about the now pedonale area around the Duomo.

Before heading back home, I wondered about what this piazza will be like in the next few weeks. It'll be difficult, I'm sure, for people to get used to the idea that cars can't pass here, but maybe in a month it'll be as if it has always been pedonale.

As a pedestrian, I am happy about the area being pedonale, but I think there will be many problems with traffic all around the centro (city center). I also fear that we'll all have to be more careful walking down some of the more narrow streets because the cars and motorini will have to find a new way to get around.

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