On this date in 1944 the retreating Nazi troops were leaving Florence in advance of the Allies arrival up the Italian peninsula. The retreating Germans did everything they could to wreak havoc for the Allies, destroying communication channels and destroying every bridge over the Arno, with the exception of the Ponte Vecchio.
In this picture below you see the destroyed Ponte Santa Trinita, with the Ponte Vecchio blessedly still in situ.
Here’s a heartbreaking overview of the Lungarno in the Oltrarno, next to Ponte Vecchio.
Naturally many Florentines were displaced from their homes and some were allowed to take shelter inside the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, where temporary beds were set up, as below.
To remember those dark days, La Compagnia delle Seggiole will perform portions of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem,” tonight in the Piazza outside the Pitti. The Requiem was written to celebrate the reconstruction of the Gothic cathedral of Coventry. Entrance is free.