The end of the year included heavy rains that swelled up the Arno and milder temperatures. Streets and piazzas were crowded with locals and out-of-towners. The holiday lights brightened up the centro storico. Florence’s festive mood invited us to partake either alone or in the company of others.
Lungarno Corsini — December 18, 2022On my brisk walk along the Arno, I paused many times to glimpse the water making its journey toward the sea. The strength and the melodious nature of the water invigorated me.
Tree trunks and broken branches bobbed on the surface of the milky beige water. After much rain over the past couple of days, the Arno’s water level had risen significantly.
I leaned against the red brick wall across from San Frediano in Cestello. The rushing water flowed like silk over the weir and then swished and swirled right before Ponte alla Carraia. The water was so loud that it drowned out the traffic passing behind me. Many spectators stopped to take photos, but no one stayed in place for long.
When the temperatures dropped, I dug my hands into my coat pockets and nestled my chin into my wool scarf.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two motorcycle cops park alongside the bicycle lane. With their helmets still on, they rushed to take photos of this rare spectacle.
As the sun was setting, its faint light beautified the city. The colors of the buildings became softer and the mood calmer. Seagulls soared high above the river, both east and west. A white mist wafted up from the water as bubbles formed on the river’s surface.
I remained in the same spot until the sun departed.
Even though it rained last night, the level today was much lower.
Ponte Vecchio — December 22, 2022While Cellini contemplated the passersby, the gray skies were turning blue. With the holiday decorations glimmering overhead, my eyes followed a flock of starlings morphing into different shapes.
The golden glow of the shop windows illuminated the sidewalk on both sides. One couple stopped to peek inside a window with countless necklaces, rings, bracelets, and earrings on display.
I paused to take in the festive atmosphere despite being in a rush. As I stood motionless before Cellini, a woman passed between us to reunite with her husband.
When I headed toward Via Por Santa Maria, the Duomo peeking over the rooftops caught my eye.
I walked up Lungarno degli Archibusieri until the end of the Corridoio Vasariano and sighed. As the Ponte Vecchio’s warm lights shimmered onto the even-tempered water, I bid it farewell.
Via Tornabuoni — December 25, 2022While the sun was setting one late afternoon, I headed outside. The cloudy skies darkened by the minute, and it began sprinkling. I arrived in Piazza San Giovanni where the tall Christmas tree stood unlit. Visitors and holiday shoppers milled around it while some took selfies with it in the background to commemorate the occasion.
Within a matter of minutes, the lights flashed on. A few people rejoiced with wide smiles as they beheld the sight.
For weeks, I admired the Christmas decorations, illuminated by the sun. However, I wanted to enjoy the décor with fewer people around. And when the moment arrived, I seized it.
I traveled up a bustling Via de’ Cerretani where shoppers hopped into shops and exited them with colorful paper bags.
After turning the corner of Via dei Rondinelli, I strode toward Piazza degli Antinori. I paused next to the Chiesa dei Santi Michele e Gaetano to take in the view of an unexpectedly empty Via de’ Tornabuoni.
As the rain persisted, I pulled my hood over my head and didn’t open my umbrella. My face welcomed faint water droplets as I navigated the golden light of the ornaments under a vibrant blue sky.
While strolling along the slick pavement, the scent of rain revived the city. A few people were seated at tables in the enclosed terraces. With fewer pedestrians around, I could see the decorations all the way down the street until the Statua della Giustizia.
I navigated my way back to Piazza di San Giovanni for a last glance at the Duomo. When I arrived, the Campanile di Giotto’s bells chimed. More people walked around the area underneath their umbrellas. The festive vibe felt even stronger as the lights on the Christmas tree shimmered.
Loggia del Mercato Nuovo — January 3, 2023As the shops were preparing to open, I strolled past delivery trucks parked on and along Via dei Neri. With only a handful of pedestrians strolling below the unlit holiday lights, I headed toward the Palazzo Vecchio. The street protected me from the chilly gusts of wind. I smiled when I glimpsed the giglio at the very top of the Torre d’Arnolfo.
People walked in all directions through Piazza della Signoria. A few sat in the heated outdoor terraces while others stood at the bar shoulder to shoulder, sipping their morning coffee and nibbling on a brioche. Their animated voices mixed with the sound of silverware clanging on porcelain plates.
I rounded the corner of Via Porta Rossa, where the sun’s light had not yet arrived, and picked up the pace. Upon reaching the newspaper kiosk, I paused.
All the stands in the Mercato del Porcellino were ready for business, but no one was perusing them. The large fleurs de lys (Florence’s coat of arms) hung from the openings of the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo. Some passersby glanced at the mix of textures and colors on display. Their determination to arrive at their destination was obvious. I remained in this spot even as a taxi inched by, bringing with it the smell of warm porchetta. Within a few minutes, bicyclists and pedestrians filled up the empty streets.
After crossing Via Calimala, I scanned the mercato from top to bottom as the decorations will soon be removed.
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