The Arno was once the throbbing heart of Florence. Its waters, still unpolluted, were used for transport, fishing, bathing, playing, washing and sport. A bigger boat was able to sail even up to Livorno.
A cultural association, mainly made up of rowers, has decided to bring this town soul back through the ancient boats used by the “renaioli”, whose work consisted in taking sand from the river bed.
Today it’s possible to get on these particular small boats and get on a charming excursion on the river. An unusual view from which you can taste a less crowded Florence, a genuine and poetic Florence. Another Florence.
The tour starts from Lungarno Diaz, then continues towards the Uffizi, Vasari Corridor, Ponte Vecchio, and finishes at Ponte alle Grazie. Comfortably seated on the boat, you can admire the Church of Limbo, S. Jacopo Sopr’Arno, Ponte S. Trinita, Palazzo Corsini, besides many other palaces and towers tied to the town history. The journey lasts about 45 minutes, but it’s longer if you ask for a tourist guide. The Renaioli made a very hard job that was passed down from father to son, because the need of building was continuous. The boat glided on the Arno pushed by heavy wood bargepoles. Once it was full to the edge, the sand was dropped off on the river bank. Here it was riddled and then taken by the “barrocciai” (carters) who carried it on their heavy coach pulled by horses. Most of Florence was built with the sand of these “river quarrymen”. The renaioli were particular people, often rebel and anarchic. During the fascism many reanioli were dissidents who exploited the chance to be able to work without the fascist party card. Afterwards the industrialisation and mechanic dredges signed the decline of this work. The flood of 1966 took away at one the boats and put a definitive end to this old job. However the river fury, on the one hand, took away the boats and, on the other hand, protected them under the floor sand.
The oak boards of the boat planking need to be in the water to avoid heavy deformations and cracks. It’s said these boats are like the fish: out of water it dies. In 1995 the new Renaioli Association decided to dig them out. Five have been taken up from the river and are perfectly working after a delicate and expensive restoration. The maintenance works are made on the river banks, in order not to move them too much and to avoid a long stay out of the water.
From April 25 to October 10 on reservation at tel. nr. +39 347 7982 356
Escursioni time approx. 45 Minutes
From 2 up to 5 Persons 100 Euro
From 5 Persons 20 Euro pro Person, children up to 14 10 Euro
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