The Ponte Vecchio bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Italy. It is the oldest bridge in Florence and spans the Arno River. Here are 10 more facts about the Ponte Vecchio.
- The original bridge was built using wood and stone by the Romans and the bridge as it is today was built in 1345.
- Taddeo Gaddi is the designer and architect of the bridge.
- Ponte Vecchio has withstood some hard times, including World War II and the catastrophic floods of 1966. Although some of the bridge’s shops were damaged, the structure of the bridge remained intact.
- The bridge was where the local butcher’s shops were located in Medieval times and waste was thrown directly into the river.
- Cosimo I de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, feared assassination. When he moved to the south side of the river, it occurred to him that he must cross the bridge to get to work. He wanted a corridor that linked his home to his office and asked architect Vasari to design one for the bridge. This is called the ‘Vasari Corridor’ or ‘Walkways of the Rich and Famous’.
- Cosimo I did not like the butchers being part of his walkway, so he ordered them to leave and had them replaced with gold and silver-smiths.
- Originally, there were four towers that guarded the entrances of the bridge but these needed removing to make way for the corridor for Cosimo I. However, a detour was created as one family refused to leave their tower. It is still visible on the south side of the Arno and is called the Mannelli Tower.
- The statue of Benvenuti Cellini was erected on the bridge in 1901. Surrounding this statue are a handful of padlocks. There were intended as symbols of eternal love put there by couples. Unfortunately, many people considered these an eye-sore, so anyone who locks anything to the fence can now face a potential fine of €160.
- Along the bridge’s corridor there are many small round windows. However, in the central section, you will see larger windows. Mussolini had these added so that Adolf Hitler could admire the river views during his visit.
- There is a sundial supported by a marble pillar on the roof of one of the bridge’s shops.