Centre District, Florence, Italy


If you are a visitor to Florence, Italy you must be certain to spend some time in the Centre District. Many of the city’s most impressive sights are here in the center of the city, and you won’t want to miss the opportunity to see them for yourself. Conveniently, the district is not very spread-out, so you can see several fantastic landmarks within just a few blocks of each other. If you have only a day to spend in Florence, this would be an excellent place to spend it since you will be able to see so much in such a short time.
The Duomo, Centre District, Florence, ItalyThe Cathedral, otherwise known as the Duomo, is found in the center of Florence, along with the baptistry. Its proper title in English is the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower, and the cathedral reflects that lovely name. Along with the richly ornamental doors and the finely sculptured marble walls, the cathedral boasts 44 gorgeous stained glass windows created in the 1300s and 1400s. Construction on the cathedral began more than seven centuries ago, and several noted artists and architects had a hand in the design of this beautiful building whose golden dome towers over central Florence.

The Cathedral Square, or Piazza del Duomo, also includes the beautiful spectacle of Giotto’s Bell Tower, a splendid example of Gothic architecture, and the Museum of the Works of the Cathedral, which houses magnificent works of art connected with the cathedral, including the handiwork of Michaelangelo and Donatello. With its rich history, this is a definite must-see for any art enthusiast.

Another impressive sight in this district of Florence is the Ponte Vecchio, which is the bridge that stands over the Arno River. In addition to its structural beauty, which dates back to medieval times, the bridge is notable because it is lined with shops. While many bridges of that time were similarly lined with shops, that is not the case for many bridges that stand today, so it’s especially fun to wander these stores and buy the art, jewelry and souvenirs that is sold inside of them.

If you are planning a visit to Florence and looking for accommodation in the Centre District or all over the city, check out Oh-Florence where you can find a huge selection of apartments to suit your every need. Clearly, this central portion of Florence has a great deal to offer any visitor with a deep and abiding interest in art, culture and history, and its magnificence is such that it is likely to foster such an appreciation in others as well.


Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone bridge that spans the narrowest point of the River Arno in Florence. It is located on the site of an ancient Roman bridge that enabled an important road, the “Via Cassia,” to cross the river. The first documented evidence of a bridge appears in 996. It was a wooden superstructure on stone piers. This bridge and a subsequent replacement were swept away by flood waters in 1177 and 1333. The bridge was rebuilt in 1345. The design, credited to Taddeo Gaddi, consists of segmented, closed-spandrel arches. There were towers situated on the four corners. Their role was to defend the bridge. Only one tower remains, situated on the southeast corner. The owners of this tower, the Torre dei Mannelli, refused to alter its design. This forced the Medici family to construct the elevated Vasari Corridor around it on brackets. The tower was damaged during the Second World War and restored in 1946 by Nello Baroni. The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge across the River Arno that was not destroyed by retreating German forces. Historians believe that Hitler, who visited the bridge in 1939, gave the order to allow the bridge to remain intact.Ponte Vechio, Florence, Italy

The bridge is noted for the shops that line its path. The lord mayor authorized merchants to exhibit their products on tables in front of their businesses. There are unverified stories that the concept of bankruptcy originated on this bridge. When a merchant couldn’t afford to remain in business, soldiers broke his table or “”bancorotto.” This action prevented the merchant from selling his goods and forced him out of business. In the early days, the shops were predominantly butchers. When the Vasari Corridor was constructed, city officials removed these businesses in 1564 to prevent their odors from entering the passageway. Goldsmiths took their places. Today, most of the businesses that line the bridge are art dealers, curio shops and descendents of the original goldsmiths.

Ponte Vecchio and its statuary are the focal point of a recent tradition in which an individual attaches a padlock along the bridge or the Benvenuto Cellini statue. This is a symbolic gesture that the person who closes the lock and tosses the key into the river is forever bonded to his true love or to the city of Florence.