Our New Home
As I wait for baby to arrive, I thought I’d share some info about our new neighborhood – San Niccolo’ . The area or district known as ‘San Niccolo’ is situated on the other side of the river, ‘Oltrarno’ and is the gateway to the popular tourist sites of Piazzale Michelangelo and the Forte Belvedere. I am constantly surprised at the traffic of tourists that I see passing by from the early morning to late evening. Of course there are the great restaurants and bars in the area that also draw a lot of trade, both local Italians and foreigners alike. We love the fact that we no longer have to drive when we want to come to this part of Florence or even to ‘Centro’ considering we are now walking distance to everything. Another plus is how much greenery we have at our doorstep – there are so many gorgeous walks up the tree-lined streets so am looking forward to pounding the pavement with the pram once baby decides that it would like to see the outside world too!
We live at the Piazza Poggi end of Via San Niccolo’ where you can’t miss the beautiful and highest tower in Florence. Piazza Poggi was named after the architect, Giuseppe Poggi who created the piazza. The tower, better known as as the Torre di San Niccolo was the only tower to not be cut down during the siege of Florence in 1529. It was restored and opened for the first time this July so for those wanting to view Florence from a very new viewpoint, you can take a half hour tour every afternoon from 4-8pm for the cheap cost of only three euro. As much as I want to walk up those many steps, the high temps and not to mention my very pregnant body have deterred me from taking the climb, although seeing as this baby is past due, maybe this is what I need to do to bring on the labour……….. run up the stairs a few times!!
ONE HOUR LATER………
OK so it was at this point of my writing that I thought it would be so nice to have photos from the tower and as it was approaching 4pm, I decided to do the tour………. There were a few oldies also walking up so I joined them at the back and we took our sweet time walking up the 161 steps to the top. The views are so beautiful, I’m so pleased I did it and no, labour hasn’t started yet. It really wasn’t as strenuous as what I thought it was going to be. The tour guide was fantastic and had us all engrossed as she told the history of the tower.
This tower is 55 meters high and was one of the very important ‘doors’ to the city. closed at night and re-opened in the mornings, manned by guards all day and night. The key used now to enter the tower is a replica of the original – one of those huge metal keys that you can’t really imagine carrying around all day, let alone attaching it to a keyring!
Emiliano called me just as I was taking this photo and thought that I was joking when I told him where I was. As I noted a bit of concern in his voice, I told him that I was joking, of course I didn’t climb to the top of the tower………… and then I sent him some photos once I got home! 🙂
Back on street level, Via San Niccolo’ is lined with many artist studios and at the other end of the street from our house is the beautiful church – not as ornate as many of the other famous churches in Florence but I love it for it’s simplicity and incredible wooden doors. I also love that as I write this, I can hear the church bells in the distance!
If you note the plaque on the wall of the church, to the left is a smaller white marble sign which indicates the level that the water reached in the November, 1966 floods that devastated the city.
During the summer months, the street is restricted to traffic so the local restaurants take advantage of the pedestrian only traffic and spread their tables and chairs out into the piazza. Rifrullo bar has been attracting people of every age for the last 20 odd years. From a morning cappuccino to your evening aperitivo, there is always a constant stream of traffic flowing in and out of this bar. Other really good restaurants situated here are Fuori Porta, Zeb and the Antica Mescita San Niccolo. To reach Fuori Porta you must walk under the very impressive 14th century archway or gateway – the ‘Porta di San Miniato’ which leads up to the San Miniato church and also forms part of the old wall that used to circle the center of Florence and protect her from the many sieges that have occurred over her long history.
I think you can tell that I love living here and feel that all the drama with the buying of the house was well worth the final result!
Now…….. when is this baby going to be born?