I wondered why out of the nearly 400,000 people in Florence at this moment there were only a handful scattered about the Ponte Vecchio Bridge gazing solemnly across the Arno. It had to be the most beautiful place in Florence, at least out of what I’ve seen. My feet take me lots of places so I decided that I’d seen enough of the city to judge which place was the most special. Even though this bridge is talked up quite a bit through travel brochures and history books, there’s really no initial disappointment at what it offers like I’ve experienced for things like the Mona Lisa. She’d always seemed so foreboding- her eyes following you around the room- but really I can’t be afraid of something so small.
The Ponte Vecchio has a way of feeling very natural even though man created it brick by brick. The stone is so weathered and permanent, and standing on it above the water gives you a glimpse into the nature that is ever-present in Florence but rarely makes an appearance. The wind isn’t forced to turn through windy little allies and weave through the burnt orange terra cotta roofs as it is on either side of the bridge. It’s able to cross as easily as any person walking over it.
The lights shining across the black mirror of water at night makes me think that the bridge is nocturnal. It feels so spectacular to climb down beneath the level of the bridge that people occupy and drop onto the flat triangular ledge jutting out four feet beneath the low walls on either side of the bridge. You get to be alone with the bridge, you and whoever your companion might be. Sometimes I put my feet over the edge because I’m not afraid of heights, but the strange fear I have of my shoes falling off and being lost in the Arno always haunts me as I dangle them. Every time I’m there I wonder who else knows about this ledge, and if anyone’s ever fallen off. Florence is bursting with hidden little places like the ledge. Woven into the dry weathered bricks of the city lays little treasures of solitude and beauty that can only be found without meaning to.
– Jordyn L. Fahey