Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind…

If I ever tire of looking at the Arno River in Florence, someone stick a fork in me…I’m done.  The timeless combination of moonlight, water, and stone so often creates stunning images, the kind I like to have sitting around in plain view for a mental retreat when things get stressful.  The Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River was first built in Roman times, using stone piers and a wooden superstructure that tended to wash away during floods.  It was finally rebuilt in stone in 1345, a medium which has proven to stand the test of time. The bridge was originally home to butchers, but we are told the odors of their cast-offs led to their eviction in favor of the jewelers who still occupy the bridge shops today.  In 1565, the Medicis had a private enclosed corridor built atop the shops on the bridge, giving them a safe and secure way to get from their Pitti Palace to the town hall nearby.  It is indeed so historic and picturesque that even Hitler found a soft spot in his heart for the Ponte Vecchio…at his express order, this was the only bridge over the Arno not destroyed by the Germans as they retreated from  Florence during WWII.  Check it out some time, and don’t be afraid to explore the far side of the river too…many visitors to Florence don’t venture beyond the great Duomo and Uffizi Gallery hotspots, and they’re missing so much.  (5, September, 2006  Firenze, Italy)

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