The Arno River travels gently through Florence on its 150-mile (240-kilometre) journey from Mount Falterona to the Tyrrhenian Sea. During Roman times this was a significant resource to the city and allowed merchants to bring wealth by trade links with the Mediterranean. Walk the banks of the Arno River today to see iconic bridges and resplendent palaces. Cruise the river waters by boat and rafting tours.
Six bridges cross the Florence section of the river, with the emblematic Ponte Vecchio the only one to be spared World War II bomb destruction. Built for the Medici family in 1345, the bridge features three wide arches topped by rows of shops. Browse the wares of antique dealers and jewelers while street performers entertain the crowds. Other bridges, such as Ponte alle Grazie and Ponte San Niccolò , afford splendid city views.
Fronting the San Niccolò neighbourhood, Terzo Giardino is a riverfront garden that combines elements of landscaping with wild nature. Admire the geometrical lawns, colourful flowerbeds and vegetation, which is left to grow natural. Come here in the evening to watch as the sun sets behind the bridges.
Take to the water on a barchetti, the human-powered boats previously used to transport building materials along the river. Sit back with a glass of wine in hand and spot historical buildings, including Barbadori Tower, Corsini Palace and Frescobaldi Palace. Energetic visitors can cruise the water with a stand-up paddleboard and embark on kayaking and rafting excursions.
Several major city attractions also stand on the riverbanks. Works by Botticelli, Caravaggio and Michelangelo are among the extensive collection of Renaissance art held at the Uffizi Gallery. Learn about the studies of Galileo and find centuries-old astronomy instruments at the Galileo Museum.
When you need a break from sightseeing, watch the world pass by from the terraces of cafés, gelaterias and trattorias.
The River Arno forms part of the Historic Centre of Florence. Get here by walking for 15 minutes from the city’s railway terminal.