when you first crossed ponte vecchio, did you pretend to ignore the five quatrillion tourists pushing past you, making it (almost) impossible for you to pretend to be mesmerised by what is ultimately unexciting, uber-traditional and samey-samey jewelry? and did you then pretend to enjoy an overpriced and disappointing meal near the famous ponte?
if that was your first impression of the ponte, let me help. first thing: get off the bridge. today, few things please me more than walking to work across the ponte de la trinita where, on the left are the sprawling, green suberbs of the city and, on the right, is the ponte vecchio, particularly stunning at sunrise, at sunset, and at midnight.
your visual enjoyment of this florentine landmark only increases with these facts:
(1) ponte vecchio used to house butchers and tanners, making it one of the stinkiest places in the city. so stinky, in fact, that in the late 16th century the medici decided to remove all these stalls and replace them with jewelers and goldsmiths. to what extent did this change the social demographic of the bridge’s users, you ask? i don’t know. but i will try to find out.
(2) in the sixteenth century, a secret passageway way was built in the bridge linking the uffizi palace to the palazzo pitti. you can imagine many scenarios behind this: a way of escaping an uprising, or a murder attempt; a way of keeping control over the city; a way of getting your lovers in and out without too much problem.
in a few weeks time i will be walking across the bridge’s secret passageway in a special private tour of the palazzo uffizi. hopefully, i’ll get more precise responses to all these questions. in the meantime, we can just agree to agree: historical contextualisation just makes everything more fun.
inside photo exp. late october