The Ponte Vecchio (literally translated: Old Bridge) is a famous closed-spandrel, stone arch bridge built over the river Arno river in Italy. Standing at 84 metres long it was designed by the architects Taddeo Gaddi and Neri di Fioravante and opened in 1345.
Things you might like to know about Ponte Vecchio
This arch-bridge houses shops along its stretch most of which were designed into the original structure in the 13th century. The stall structures have always been dominated by one trade at any one time with butchers being the initial occupiers. It is currently dominated by jewellery sellers, souvenir and art dealers. Most of the initial blacksmiths and tanners were kicked out by the decree of Ferdinand I who found their trade repulsive and contaminating to the river below which was already choked and stinking with waste. In their place the goldsmiths that you can see to this day. The Old Bridge as it is now, is flanked by two other arch bridges the Ponte alle Grazie and Ponte Santa Trinita. The Ponte Vecchio is an open bridge design built close to Palazzo Pitti south of Piazza Della Repubblica. Until 1218 it was the only bridge structure towering over the Arno River then a further two were designed. The current Ponte Vecchio was rebuilt in 1345 after it was destroyed by floods on river Arno. The bridge suffered structurally when the Germans destroyed the buildings around it during the second world war. The rebuilt bridge was strong enough to survive the massive flooding of the Arno River in 1966. Major modifications were also made to the bridge when the Medici rulers required a connecting route linking the Uffizi gallery to Palazzo Pitti after they moved from Palazzo Vecchio. It was the talented architect Giorgio Vasari who took on the challenge in 1565 and built for them the Corridoio Vasariano which is built above the shops on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. This bridge is one of the most romantic spots in Florence and it’s also home to the place where the 16th century goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini has a bust built in his honour. The bridge is used by the locals for evening walks (una Passegiata) and strolls as they usher in the night.
Un po di storia
The main architects, Taddi and Neri designed the Ponte Vecchio Bridge at the narrowest point of the river on what is believed to have been the ruins of a previous Roman bridge. It is believed that via Cassia crossed the river Arno on a previous bridge at this exact location. That initial bridge had a wooden superstructure with stoner piers. While the details of the initial bridge are scanty the first documentation of its existence is found in a 996 AD edict. After being swept away by floods in 1117 it was redesigned but got destroyed a second time in the 1300s. Two central piers survived though as recorded by Giovanni Villani in the book Nuova Cronica. The architectural marvel and rich history of Ponte Vecchio Bridge makes it an absolute must visit for anyone in Florence.
March 19, 2019 10:35 am local time