South of the Arno River is the Oltrarno Neighborhood, a little less touristy than the middle of Florence. Although the Ponte Vecchio doesn’t classify as less touristy, there are other bridges on which to walk across the river.
We liked the Untours trip that we were on. Besides taking care of the lodging and our arriving in Florence it gave us an orientation meeting and dinner which occurred over in the Oltrarno. Our leader, Mary Jane Poole, walked us through taking the #12 bus over there, which was invaluable info later in the week. Our dinner also included an art walk led by Marta Mandolini an art student who also works for Florence Design Week
It was a great tour even though I could not get very good pictures due to no light, but I did have reference points for later in the week when we went back to the district.
We also signed up for a walking tour of artisan shops with Context Travel.
Our tour guide was Luca Santiccioli
He is an art historian and a super fast translator…fun to watch him in action. First he took us to the studio of silversmith (argenteria) Donato Zaccaro.
The next artisan was Carlo Cecchi who does metal work. If you walked into Gumps in San Francisco and bought a silver business card case he would have made it here in Florence. (No web site, you will just have to go to Gumps or the Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella where his pierced metal potpourri containers reside.)
So plain, you ask? It just never could be decided what kind of facade to put on it. Inside, however,
(no pictures allowed) is the most amazing Brunelleschi interior with column after column of serene stone-the grey-blue stone makes it look like a grey-blue forest. Also a crucifix made by Michelangelo at seventeen. His thank you gift because the mortuary allowed him to dissect bodies and learn anatomy. And a spectacular trompe l’oeil ceiling in order to save money.
Over to our third artisan, Gianni Raffaelli, a copperplate etcher at L’Ippogrifo.