On May days when tourists descend in droves by plane, train and automobile, it’s time to take to the hills—and one steep ascent in particular.
Photos by Helen Farrell @helencfarrell
Via dell’Erta Canina is a special street, unknown to the masses and often overlooked by locals. One Sunday afternoon, after taking on Florence’s ultimate natural gym (the climb up the Monte alle Croci steps from Porta San Niccolò to piazzale Michelangelo) to breathe in the spring scent of Florence’s Rose and Iris Gardens, I veered off the usual route back down the hill, turning right onto viale Galileo instead and walking round the rim of the green basin towards the affluent row of real estate in the distance. Barely a few steps right into via dell’Erta Canina and realization dawns that the soundtrack to this narrow road lined with ochre walls is the great outdoors. Birds sing, crickets chirp and bees buzz around the wisteria tumbling over the sides of the aptly titled Villa Bellavista: it’s like wandering into another Florence of another time. A truism if you consider that Erta Canina was one of the few ways of reaching the city centre from the countryside until Giuseppe Poggi designed the ring roads in the late nineteenth century.