After living in Europe for almost five years, most of which was spent living in Florence, I have a long list of travel suggestions and tips that will enhance most anyone’s visit. In the coming months I will, from time to time, share with you some of my favorite experiences. I hope you enjoy them. As I frequent Florence most often to see my son, I want to begin with one of the great walks of the world, which, in no small irony, is down a street named after Leonardo da Vinci! If the weather is pleasant, have a taxi driver drop you off at Via San Leonardo near the Viale Michelangelo. The drive from the city center is no more than 10 minutes. The walk back to town takes about 40 minutes and is completely downhill. You will arrive at the Arno River just to the east of the Ponte Vecchio. The Uffizi Gallery will be directly in front of you on the other (north) side of the River. Visible in the photo on page 258 of Rescuing Da Vinci is the exact spot at which you will arrive as it appeared in August, 1944, days after the Germans had destroyed five of the six bridges that crossed the Arno.
As you walk down this cobble-stone path, wide enough for just one vehicle, note the scrafito on most of the walls of homes along the way. We used this word today – graffiti – but it had a very different and more pleasing definition centuries ago. At several junctures along the way you may be able to peer over the protective walls to see the top of the Duomo in the distance. Imagining the life of the Florentines centuries ago is fairly easy as you walk down this street and get a sense of the neighborhood that in so many ways seem unchanged today.