The beautiful Arno River runs through the center of Florence, then on toward Pisa and beyond. Once the area’s primary “highway,” it facilitated the transport of goods between the sea and cities in central Italy, and enabled warring troops to approach and attack their enemies up and down the river. It is said that the Florentines cheerfully relieved themselves into the Arno River, knowing that their downstream rivals, the Pisans, would be the recipients of the “polluted” water.
The Arno is not always as picturesque and serene as it appears in this photo. On several occasions, it has overflowed its banks, creating massive flooding. In 1966, Florence was devastated by floodwaters which rose as high as twenty-two feet, killing forty people and severely damaging or destroying many priceless pieces of artwork. Several of Florence’s most notable attractions—including the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio—lie along (or across) the Arno River. No visit to Florence is complete without a leisurely stroll along the banks of the river.