A traveller to Italy can never miss visiting the wonderful Ponte Vecchio. Ponte Vecchio is Europe’s oldest wholly stone, closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge built over the Arno River in Florence. Also called as the Old Bridge, Ponte Vecchio houses a number of jewelry shops selling antique and designer jewelry.
The structure and idea behind the entire architectural piece and the surrounding area are exceptionally splendid and a visit to the bridge would add a real value to a tourist’s itinerary.
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History of Florence Old Bridge
It is believed that this bridge was first built during the Roman times with wood. In 1333, a flood severely destroyed it after which it was again rebuilt with stone in 1345. Taddeo Gaddi was the master brain behind the design of this marvelous piece. In 1565, Cosimo I de Medici got the famous Vasari Corridor above the bridge. The architect this time was Giorgio Vasari and the corridor connected the Palazzo Vecchio (Florence’s town hall) with the Palazzo Pitti.
Down the ages, the bridge had been a huge shopping complex. Originally, shoppers preferred this place due to some tax exemptions. Since 1942, a corporate association of butchers had monopolized this bridge. To maintain the dignity of the bridge, Cosimo I de Medici prohibited the meat shops here. Immediately, gold merchants took the place.
It was believed that locking padlocks in the structure of the bridge and throwing away the key into the river would unite lovers for eternity. There were numerous padlocks locked to various places especially in the railings around the statue of Cellini. Since this practice would spoil and damage the ancient bridge, thousands of padlocks were removed from time to time. Recently, the government has displayed a penalty of 50 euros for those caught doing this.
With explicit orders from Hitler, Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge left undestroyed by Germans during their retreat in 1944.
It is believed that the word and the idea of bankruptcy originated here on the bridge. When a merchant did not pay his debts, the table on which he had displayed the goods (banco) was broken by soldiers (rotto). Not having a table anymore, the merchants were not able to sell anymore.
Ponte Vecchio consists of three segmental arches. The span of the main arch is 30 meters. The two side arches span about 27 meters. The arch rises between 3.5 to 4.4 meters. Span to rise ratio of the bridge is 5:1.
Tourist Information about this wonderful spot in Florence
The central chamber of the bridge is exposed to an area with vaulted pillars offering a stunning view of the river Arno. During summer, one can see the bridge filled with visitors, street performers and portrait painters making it a highly entertaining and thrilling experience for the tourists. On a clear day, it is a fantastic sight to view the bridge during sunset, which adorns the bridge with golden and yellow hues. Standing over Ponte Santa Trinita, one can have a great view of Ponte Vecchio while it is illuminating the night of Florence.
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