Stretching 150 miles (241 kilometers) from Mount Falterona to the Ligurian Sea, the River Arno is Tuscany’s largest body of water. While the Arno runs through Casentino and Pisa, it is most often visited in Florence, where it divides the city in two. Florence’s bridges—including the iconic Ponte Vecchio—are renowned for their River Arno views.
As Florence’s bisecting waterway and one of its main attractions, the Arno is seen on most walking tours, which also typically include the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Santa Croce Church, and Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence. While walking tours are the best way to get a close look at the Arno, golf cart, Vespa, and vintage car tours typically include a drive along the river’s banks and provide a quicker way to see all that Florence has to offer. All that said, you can’t get closer to the Arno than through water-based activities, from paddleboarding to barchetto tours, which provide views of Florence from a perspective that many visitors often miss.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A visit to the banks of the Arno is a must for first-time visitors to Florence, especially photographers of all skill levels.
- Remember to bundle up if visiting during December and January, when windy conditions along the river may cause temperature drops.
- Don’t forget comfortable shoes, as the best way to explore Florence is on foot.
- Download the Firenze Turismo app to access maps, cultural event calendars, and tourist information.
How to Get There
The Arno runs through two of Italy’s top destinations—Florence and Pisa—both of which are easily accessible using public transit. The centrally located Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station in Florence and Centrale station in Pisa are the terminuses for most direct buses and trains. If traveling by car to Florence, take Autoroute E35 to Highway SS67; to Pisa, take Autoroute E80 or Superstrada Firenze-Pisa-Livorno.
When to Get There
The Ponte Vecchio, one of the river’s main attractions in Florence, can get congested on weekday and weekend afternoons. For a quieter visit, go in the morning just as the vendors begin to set up shop. Annual highlights in the city of Pisa include Luminara di Santa Ranieri in June, when thousands of twinkling lights float down the river to celebrate the patron saint of Pisa, as well as the Pisa Regatta, where participants race against the Arno’s current.
Where to Find the Best Views of the Arno
While there are no bad views of the Arno, the Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinita offer the best close-range views of the Arno’s current. For panoramic views of Florence and the river at sunset, climb to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo around 5pm. Easy Living Beach, on the south bank of the Arno, is a popular summer haunt, while the Uffizi Gallery offers glimpses of the river through gallery windows above.