A walk in the Oltrarno

On our second full day in Florence we decided to do part of a walk in a guide book.  We weren’t following it exactly because it didn’t make sense. Okay I’ll confess, the first part was too close to our hotel, so we skipped it. In doing so, we emerged on the river bank  further east than the walk, so took a slight diversion. Where’s the fun in exploring a new city without going up some back alleys?

We emerged on Piazza Santa Maria Del Carmine, where the church of the same name had a rather dull exterior, and had a peep inside.

This church of the Carmelite order was built in 1268, but was damaged by fire in 1771 and the interior rebuilt in the Rococo style 11 years later. It was nicer inside than out.

We got our bearings back and headed for the Via Santo Spirito, occasionally getting distracted, wondering what was up there or around that corner.

One of the things we did find from the walk description, was this pretty stone tabernacle from the 14th century. The fresco of the Madonna with Child and the Saints Paolo and Gerolamo) is reputed to be the work of Bicci di Lorenzo. The little figure between the  saints is the person who the commissioned the fresco.

A sharp shower sent us rushing for an espresso and a bit of a sit down.

Then we were off again.

Towards Santa Spirito, the heart of this creative, bohemian area.

Oltrarno is the home of many artisan workshops, including the fabulous shop I showed you last week. Surprises and smiles are around every corner.


Close to a nursery school, we came across this moving sculpture, in honour of the Armenian genocide.

Let us not forget.

Back to the streets and we were drifting south to what we thought was a secondary entrance to Boboli gardens.

So we turned tail towards the direction of the river, passing elegant gates leading to secluded mansions.

We didn’t fetch up where we expected even then.

Instead we found the Pitti Palace and lunch in a cafe opposite. I made a mistake in that cafe, ordering something with meat. I was quite upset that I’d mixed a word up, but they kindly changed it for what I’d intended to order. That’ll teach me not to think I’m too clever!

We had a gelato and watched the world go by after lunch,

and of course I loved this sculpture.

We ended this walk, which I’m sharing with Jo, who knows it well, at Ponte Vecchio.

I wonder where she’s walking this week.


23 thoughts on “A walk in the Oltrarno

  1. I don’t know where to begin, sweetheart! This is perfect 🙂 🙂 I so agree that following a guide book tour can be a bit of a chore but they are extremely helpful in making you aware of when there’s something special to see. You have some fabulous captures here! I can see a One (or two 🙂 ) that Sue would be proud of. That Armenian sculpture, so full of pathos, I didn’t see, nor the last one with the wonderful reflections in. I’m going back to do it again to check what I’ve missed. Thank you so much for finding time for this in your hectic life. Hugs, Gilly! 🙂

    1. I’m not much good at following instructions, but it was fun trying! We did lots of strolling with eyes wide open and it’s a city that rewards that. I didn’t go inside the Duomo (I know, I l know!) and there’s lots more I’d like to see, but there there are so many places I want to visit! x:-)x

  2. I forgot to say that we may well have had lunch in that same cafe opposite the Pitti Palace 🙂 🙂 We’d already walked our legs off and discovered we couldn’t get into the Boboli Gardens because it was Monday 😦 . And I love those street corner frescoes. What a place it is, isn’t it? Beaming! 🙂 🙂

    1. How cool, if you’d suggested it was worth a visit I’d never have found it! My phone’s step counter which often underestimates, says we averaged 7 miles a day.
      Will the ryanair cancellations affect you this winter? 😦

      1. That sounds about right to me, and worth every step! 🙂 Did you find lots of lovely food/ So far- fingers crossed- we’re not affected but we’re flying Monarch and they’re in trouble again. Lisa is flying Ryanair in their November visit and I’ll talk to her tonight. Think James flights are ok. He made it to Lisbon and back the other week 🙂 🙂

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed strolling through Florence with you. Somewhere I really must visit one of these days as I think I’ll love it. My sister visited a few weeks ago and left after 2days because she was bored!!! How can you be bored when it has so many streets and galleries to explore, and places to eat and watch the world go by.

  4. I think getting lost and following your nose is the best way to explore a new city. Of course it helps to have some sort of map so you don’t get completely lost! Love the people you found along the way. So, which city is your favourite Gilly, Florence or Barcelona? Or somewhere else entirely?

  5. The very best way to explore is how you did it Gilly. You find so many unexpected delights. Only problem can be finding your way back to square one….

  6. I’ve never been to Florence so coming along on a virtual walk with you Gilly, has made the place come alive. Those church interiors are so ornate. Love the eclectic mix of observations – the historic and the creative.

  7. I found you through RestlessJo and your post reminded me of my wonderful few days in Florence last year – you might like to see what I got up to! I have also contributed to Jo’s walks and am promising to share another with her next week.

  8. A wonderful stroll that revived some faint memories of a long ago visit. Agree with you about going up some back alley in a new city. My most favourite thing to do.

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