Sunday, 19 January 2014

Florence - the Oltrano neighbourhood

Our second visit to Florence, we decided to stay away from the busy area around the Piazza del Signoria on the north bank of the river and instead stayed in the Oltrarno - the other side of the Arno.  It was a good decision.  The streets were quieter and the shops quaint and eclectic.  We got to see more of local life and felt comfortable enough to stay out at night and walk after dinner.

We stayed in a second floor apartment in this renovated building from 1800 on Via Mazetta, just around the corner from the San Spirito Church and Piazza.  We loved the neighbourhood - full of artisanal shops making everything from hats to shoes, antiques, and more.  What a change from the north side of the river, which was full of designer stores.

I would call this a one of a kind store...
and this, a high end antique store

Looking down Via Mazetta - the Piazza San Spirito is just around the corner

The local church - bells ringing to call the locals to mass

I was surprised to see this store selling old maps and prints

Basilica San Spirito - I will not easily forget the beautiful Michelangelo sculpture of Christ on the crucifix - done when he was only seventeen and staying at the convent of San Spirito.  It was unusual because it was naked but in keeping with the Gospels.  But most unusual and memorable was the serenity in the expression on Christ's face.

A deconsecrated church turned into an art gallery

Handmade shoe shop

His and hers wedding clothes
and after that, the kiddie store...

There was a tailor working in this his and hers everyday wear store...

People actually live here - nice courtyard behind this gate

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