So today was out first real day moving around Firenza for the cultural things. This morning we were all up bright and early, and ready to start our day, however the weather didn’t want to cooperate and was drizzling all morning. Previously we had passed the Duomo of Santa Maria Cathedral. Personally I love seeing inside churches even though I’m not religious, and kinda very intrigued by churches. So we visited both the campanile and Florence Cathedral as you can see from the pictures.
- First stop, The Duomo!
Impressions.. outside is stunning and magnificent piece of architecture. Inside, overrated!!! Nothing really much on the inside. It is huge and has lots of space and you can climb to the top and outside of it.
We were feeling quite fit and stupidly thought the 414 steps up to the adjacent bell tower to take in a fantastic view of the city would be a good idea. The idea was good, the effort and burning legs was not.
- The Palazzo Vecchio tower is another Florence cityscape standout.
- Then we walked past the Uffizi Gallery. I’m not a big museum person and while we were pressed for time, it was decided I would catch the Gallery alone in the morning. However as part of the public part of the Uffizi, the replica of David is outside. The picture below is the fountain of Poseidon, If I’m not mistaken. But I could be!
- The 14th century shop-lined covered Ponte Vecchio had the most bling and ridiculous sets of gold and jewellery I had ever seen, and that was just in the shopfronts! This is the most famous and most frequently photographed bridge in Florence and the only one that wasn’t destroyed in World War II. The bridge itself houses many goldsmiths, jeweller’s shops and medieval workshops that overhang the bridge.
Anyway, the girls are coming back, and we are heading for dinner and maybe I can finally meet some couchsurfers in Italy!
Back to the pictures
Looking at the Ponte Vecchio on the River Arno
This picture below was most interesting, since I had no idea about the locks on the bridge. The tradition is for lovers to write their names on a lock, lock their “love” to the ponte vecchio in florence, and throw the key over the bridge–securing their love forever.
Contrary to what most believe, the so-called lucchetti d’amore are not related to the origins of this practice. Michele Santini, Florentine born-and-bred, explained their origins to me and they have nothing to do with love. He explained that the tradition began when young men had to leave their home towns to do military service. They attached a lock to one of the bridges before their departure as a promise to return home, essentially a promise to survive the war.
The padlocks originated in Rome where, on the Ponte Milvio, they are even more ubiquitous than on the Ponte Vecchio. Built in the year 109 on a key route into Rome, the Ponte Milvio was the site of fierce battles in ancient times.
The act of attaching a lock to a bridge obviously symbolizes the unbreakable bonds of true love. Additional symbolism is found in the fact that they are attached to bridges, symbolically uniting two sides, and the keys thrown into the river. The fact that the tradition originated in Rome, the eternal city, further contributes to its romantic symbolism.
Love locks, however, aren’t all sweetness and love but also represent the booming tourism industry and its negative effects. As tourists now like to attach padlocks to the Ponte Vecchio and other bridges in Italy, thousands of locks have to be removed each year to prevent the deterioration of the statues and bridges, a lengthy and costly job. In 2006, in response to the protests of Florentine citizens, the city police were urged to control the Ponte Vecchio, in particular the monument to Benvenuto Cellini, and fine anyone who tried to attach a lock; a hefty fine of 50 euro.
Several procedural rules have evolved for these metallic love vows over the years. For example, couples must write their names with a felt-tipped pen, on one side of the lock, adding the date of their passage through Florence on the other side, before throwing the keys into the river. There’s a legend that tells that one of the locks once attached to the railing around the statue of Cellini, was a combination lock to the entrance to the Vasari Corridor, atop the bridge linking Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi with the Pitti Palace. This passage was designed as a private route for the rulers of the city. I haven’t heard of anyone opening this mysterious passageway, but maybe you will be lucky…As you can see the luccheti d’amore have symbolized many different things over the years – devotion to one’s country, teenage puppy love, the prospect of eternal love, as well as the damaging nature of tourism. Believe what you like, attach one if you must, but take care not to get fined 50 euro!