Itinerary: Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Discover the amazing and worldwide famous Italian gold art on Ponte Vecchio, one of the most famous bridges in the world
Today let's go and visit Ponte Vecchio in Florence. It is a great place for shopping especially to those who love jewels and gold.
Some historical hints about Ponte Vecchio: it is likely to be the main attraction of Florence, and one of the most famous bridges in the world. Ponte Vecchio was built in 972-974 and underwent many reconstructions and restorations in 1177, 1345 and 1944. In the fifteenth century, the bridge was home to the butchers of the city, because the local authorities did not want the smell of the meat to spread all over the city. So, the butchers gathered on the bridge, which became the meat market for many years. Then, in 1565, the famous architect Giorgio Vasari built a corridor just above the shops, which allowed the Medici family to easily move from Palazzo Vecchio, the administrative center of the city, to Palazzo Pitti, the private residence of the family. In 1593 Ferdinando I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, decided to replace the butchers with gold art and jewelry stores, to avoid the bad smell and to promote a more noble trade under the corridor.
Since then, the many small jewelry shops located on the bridge have been the true masters attracting thousands of tourists every year. In fact, the so-called "Old Bridge" (Ponte Vecchio) is constantly crowded with tourists and locals who do not want to miss the amazing view of river Arno, as well as the charming atmosphere you can breathe while there.
Ponte Vecchi is a bridge where the highest expression of the gold art takes place: two rows of small, wooden "houses", each of them selling thousands of gold and platinum jewels and decorations, made unique by many different gold-manufacturing techniques, and where the Italian laws on gold's quality and carats are always guaranteed. No other Florence souvenir compares with something bought in one of these tiny shops! They are probably the best "showrooms" of the Italian gold art: here you can purchase a simple small pendant or even an important necklace, bracelet or ring with or without precious gems such as diamond, sapphire, emerald or others. It is up to your wallet, as it always is.
The Italian gold and jewelry art is well known in the world. During the International Fairs of Gold and Jewellery, held in Vicenza, Arezzo or Valenza, many wholesalers coming from all over the world buy these precious Italian products. Those three cities are the main handmade manufacture of gold and jewels centers in Italy. Arezzo, a Tuscan city not far from Florence, is an important center for gold manufacturing. Vicenza, in region Veneto, is also known as a 'City of Gold', thanks to its long-lasting gold tradition, meanwhile Valenza, the small city in Piedmont, is known for its beautiful handmade manufacture of jewels with precious gems. Vincenzo Melchiorre, a goldsmith who was born there, founded the concept of the modern Italian jewelry store.
So, in one word, once you are in Florence, you can not miss Ponte Vecchio and its shining gold and jewelry shops!
What if gold is not for you? Florence and all its surroundings will satisfy your shopping wishes with another material: leather. Tuscany and Florence in particular, are the most important places where high-quality leather products are made and traded. Bags, wallets, jackets, bracelets, shoes, belts: whatever accessory comes to your mind, here, you will find the perfect one for you! There are leather shops of all kinds from the very expensive ones to those more affordable ones. San Lorenzo Market lies just next to Basilica di San Lorenzo, the amazing Renaissance-style Basilica built in the fifteenth century, and it is the perfect place where to buy leather accessories: have a look at all the stalls, choose the right one, try the products on, negotiate the price, and take a special handmade and unforgettable gift home!
More about Florence:
Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio, the heart of Florence
Florence, the famous art city and its historic churches
Some pictures of this tour:
Ponte Vecchio, Florence (pic n°1); Gold Bracelets and rings with diamonds (pic n°2); Jewelry stores on Ponte Vecchio (pic n°3);