Firenze Greenway: ecological itineraries connecting World Heritage sites and neighbourhoods in Florence, Italy

© Guido Cozzi, Associazione Firenze Greenway
Published: 21 September 2021
Last edited: 11 April 2022
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Summary

Florence Greenway is a 20-km cultural and ecological itinerary located in the Oltrarno area, a neighborhood south of the World Heritage site ‘Historic Centre of Florence’. The project aims at merging three already-existing itineraries passing through gardens and monuments belonging to different institutions and two World Heritage sites (‘Historic Centre of Florence’ and ‘Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany’). The project is enhanced by a series of physical and virtual information material, as well as actions aimed at the requalification and restoration of components of the itineraries. This unique journey constitutes a long-term solution to offer alternative routes centred on slow tourism, sustainability, the rediscovery of green urban areas, and the well-being of visitors. Furthermore, it enriches the relationship between the historic centre, its surrounding landscape and the external neighborhoods, raising awareness of their significance.  

Classifications

Region
West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Local
Ecosystem
Area-wide development
Connective infrastructure, networks and corridors
Green roofs / Green walls
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Theme
Cities and infrastructure
Culture
Health and human wellbeing
Peace and human security
Sustainable livelihoods
Terrestrial spatial planning
Tourism
Transport
Urban planning
World Heritage
Challenges
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 8: Pollution reduced

Location

Florence, Italy

Challenges

Environmental challenges

  • Urban pollution
  • Poor promotion and valorisation of urban green areas, especially those located outside of the historic centre

Social Challenges

  • Mass tourism afflicting the historic centre and its carrying capacity

Economic challenges

  • Underdevelopment of neighbourhoods and areas surrounding the historic centre, which have less economics opportunities given their location outside of traditional touristic itineraries

Beneficiaries

  • Citizens of Florence (residents and city users)
  • Visitors
  • Students and academics
  • City users with restricted mobility

How do the building blocks interact?

The creation of a Greenway in the city of Florence is placed in the larger framework of the European Greenways, a concept formalised in the Lille Declaration (2000) to enhance urban sustainability and the well-being of residents and city users. The notion of urban countryside (BB1) and its relevance for our societies are the basis upon which the whole project is founded, as it expresses the need to promote and restore urban green spaces. The set of partnerships between Municipality, private actors, World Heritage sites and other stakeholders (BB2) opened avenues for the institutional and practical realisation of the project, which included the realisation of promotional material and the restoration of physical components. Finally, the three itineraries were identified and establishment according to the concept of ‘Promenadologie’, a philosophy that sees the stroll as a tool to experience the environment in alternative ways (BB3), and the creation of a structured wayfinding and signage system (BB4) that led to the identification, restoration and promotion of physical and intangible components to include in the project.

Impacts

Environmental impacts

  • Requalification and restoration of elements in the itinerary that had been previously neglected and overlooked
  • Re-discovery of agricultural and cultural landscapes and urban green spaces, with the consequent promotion of underrepresented categories of heritage and narratives

Social impacts

  • Promotion of sustainable and alternative itineraries for both residents and visitors, in the framework of slow tourism to implement a safe and healthy city. The Greenway helps improve health conditions, with good economic benefits
  • Improved health and psycho-social well-being of residents, visitors and city users alike
  • Re-establishment of the relationship between the city and its surrounding environment, reinforcing the connection between nature and culture
  • Creation of a green path connecting two World Heritage sites, the Historic Centre of Florence and the Medici Villas
  • Improved communication between different stakeholders and enhanced connection between people and places

Economic impacts

  • Improved management of touristic flows
  • Improved economic development in the Oltrarno area, thus outside of the traditional touristic circuits in the historic centre

Story

Genini/Firenze Greenway

“Il taccuino del viaggiatore - Una giornata nella Greenway” is a story illustrated by Gabriele Genini and written by Maria Chiara Pozzana, a testimony to the experience of navigating the Greenway and benefiting from its environmental and cultural values. The story has been written while walking through the Greenway and enjoying its cultural, historical and ecological  itineraries.

 

The publication can be found at: https://www.firenzegreenway.com/il-taccuino-del-viaggiatore/

Contributed by

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Carlo Francini Florence World Heritage and Relations with UNESCO Office

Other contributors

Associazione “Firenze Greenway”