The River Arno: Tuscany’s life force

The River Arno is the most important river in Central Italy( link Italy DG)  after the Tiber. It has supported life in Tuscany tor centuries and provided a vital trade link for historic cities and regions linking Tuscany ‘s western coastal ports with the Apennine Mountains in the north eastern region where the 240 kilometre river has its source. From there  it flows through the historic cities of Arezzo, Florence and Pisa.

The source of the Arno is near the Appennine’s Casentino Valley which is known for its   history, art, good food,  castles, villages and outdoor activities .The main centre is  Poppi, elected one of the most beautiful towns in Italy .The Casentino is where  St. Francis climbed La Verna and received the stigmata, and St. Romualdo founded his hermitage at Camaldoli.

Arno River, Florence
Arno River, Florence

In the region known as the Valdarno ,  the Arno changes direction near  Arezzo and heads north west  flowing through Florence and on to Pisa .  During the Middle Ages, , this area was the object of brutal battles fought between rival dynasties ftom competing city states.

The Arno River divides Florence in two  and  passes below many bridges including the Ponte San Niccolò, Ponte alle Grazie, the picturesque Ponte Vecchio with its Vasari Corridor, Ponte Santa Trinita, Ponte alla Carraia, Ponte Vespucci, Ponte alla Vittoria, and finally Ponte dell’Indiano. Most of the bridges are reconstructions, due to the   Nazis destroying  them  when retreating from the advancing Allied forces during World War II.

About 20 kilometres southwest of Florence, the main town before Pisa is Empoli, located in a plain formed by the Arno .The area and is known worldwide for its leather industry, featuring more than 400 factories and laboratories.

Arno River, Pisa
Arno River, Pisa

Like Florence, the city of Pisa has always been influenced by the presence of the Arno . And like Florence it is  divided  into south and north by the river  and linked  by many bridges . Here you can find: Ponte delle Bocchette, Ponte della Vittoria, Ponte della Fortezza, Ponte di Mezzo, Ponte Solferino, Ponte della Cittadella, Ponte della Ferrovia, and Ponte dell’Aurelia, The most famous is probably the Count Ugolino bridge, known to everyone as Ponte di Mezzo, set in a beautiful location in the city centre, connecting Piazza Garibaldi with Piazza XX Settembre, where you’ll find the Praetorian Palace, the City Hall and the Logge dei Banchi. It is the bridge on which, every June, the Gioco del Ponte (Bridge Game) takes place .As  in Florence, the roads bordering the river are called “Lungarni”. The Lungarni riverside of Pisa were admired by many nineteenth century Italian and European writers for its  beautiful urban scenery.

Bocca d’Arno is  the last stretch of the Arno and at its mouth, is Marina di Pisa. The Bocca d’Arno area is famous for its beautiful setting, which embraces the typical wooden buildings called “retoni” located on the water and against the evocative scenery of the Apuan Alps. In 2013 a port was built here , to supply the town of Marina di Pisa.


Destination – Italy