Still getting to know Florence! Tchaikovsky in Florence and more!

Forbidden from leaving Florence by Covid restrictions (damn you Orange Zone!), I’ve been challenging myself to find new and interesting things to see and do in this amazing city. Otherwise, I’m afraid I will get mighty bored. Plus, the weather has been amazing for a week. In the 60s and sunny, with nary a cloud skidding through the blue, blue sky.

I’m particularly drawn to the section of Florence known as the Viale dei Colli in the Oltrarno. I can hop on a bus near my home in the northern hills of Florence and the #13 bus will take me through the city and un the Viale dei Colli to Piazzale Michelangelo, or, if I ride further, to San Miniato al Monte. I sometimes choose to ride the bus further, to the Forte di Belvedere or, even, to the Porta Romana. As you can see, the #13 offers me a lot of options.

The pictures from this post are from a section of the Viale dei Colli that I’ve not previously walked. I rode the #13 bus past the Forte di Belvedere and got off at the next stop. I was welcomed with a flurry of pink and white plum blossoms, which I stopped to enjoy, while listening to birdsong.

The map below shows my route through the Oltrarno; the blue line designates the gorgeous drive known as the Viale dei Colli, designed in the 19th century by landscape architect, Giuseppe Poggi.

I saw many new things on this first walk through this area. Here are some of the lovely images.

I followed some joggers off the main Viale and onto a small street, via Bonciani, where I was immediately rewarded for my effort with my first awareness of the fact that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the Russian composer, lived in this villa during one of his many visits to Florence. In fact, I learned later, he wrote his String Sextet in D minor “Souvenir de Florence,” Op. 70, is a string sextet scored for 2 violins, 2 violas, and 2 cellos composed in the summer of 1890. The work, in the traditional four-movement form, was titled “Souvenir de Florence” because the composer sketched one of the work’s principal themes while visiting Florence, Italy, where he composed The Queen of Spades. The work premiered in 1892.

So there you go, 15 minutes off the bus and already I’ve been rewarded with pink and white flowers and another layer of Florence’s rich history: a major Russian composer lived and worked among these hills to the south of the city. Oh my, I do love this place!

The magnificent private homes, all villas, along the Viale are a sight to behold, especially in spring with the early blossoms and bright green grass. A little later in the season and the scenes would be obscured with the tree foliage.

Taking a left off the Tchaikovsky street, I encountered this beautiful streetscape, highlighted with spring sunshine. The doorway on the left side is quite a mavel, as you will see next:

Back out on the main Viale, I encountered the lovely Villa Magnolia. One can only imagine the views these villas have of the skyline of beautiful Florence.

Not long after, I spied this grand staircase leading to? who knows? I had to ascend to find out.

Climbing the many, many steps, I saw this tiny little volunteer violet. Be still my heart!

At the top, I met this tall, dark fellow, Mr. Daniele Mann, about whom I know nothing and can find nothing in Google.

Back down the same stairs I climbed up, the next new thing I saw was this park, above and below. Complete with picnickers! I mean, who knew? Turns out this lovely little untrammeled area is known as Giardino Bobolino. I had no idea it even existed!

The way I understand it, the beautiful villa, now called Villa Cora, is a part of the same estate from which the Giardino Bobolino is formed. Today Villa Cora is an upscale hotel (closed for Covid, thank you very much), but the lush, verdant grounds of the Giardino are open to all.

There’s a sculpture installation at the intersection of the top part of the Viale and the Giardino Bobolino, composed of 4 tall, metal abstracted human figures. With the sculptures is a plaque honoring Paul P. Harris, as founder of Rotary Clubs. I don’t quite understand this group and can’t find anything about it with a Google search. Hmm…

Following the viale downwards towards Porta Romana, I saw another view and access point to the Giardino Bobolino:

And then, off to the left and above this fountain, I noticed what I can only describe as a “Tuscan chalet,” seen below. Isn’t it odd and wonderful? I have no idea what it is used for: it is completely shut up.

At the end of my walk, I entered Florence again through the Porta Romana. I’ll be back again soon with more discoveries found in this astounding city!

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