Ponte Vecchio: the most iconic Florentine bridge

//Ponte Vecchio: the most iconic Florentine bridge
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Ponte Vecchio, the Old Bridge is… old enough to tell lots and lots of stories about Florence and its – often hugely famous – inhabitants.

Ponte Vecchio Florence: because if you have a river, you need a bridge…

Crossing the Arno before Ponte Vecchio – the Roman age

As we already said, even if Florence is the symbol of the Italian Renaissance, its story as a settlement and then as a city is much longer. The oldest area is the one around the Cathedral, on the northside bank of the river.

But Florence was the most important “station” of the Via Cassia, the alternative to the Via Aurelia on the coast, and the Arno had to be crossed.

What we could call the “first version” of what will be the Ponte Vecchio was a wooden bridge across the narrowest point of the Arno, part of a river port with stone piers.

The first document quoting the – still wooden – bridge dates to 996 AD.

In 1117 the bridge was completely destroyed by a flood, and then rebuilt in stone. According to Giovanni Villani, who mentions the bridge in his Nuova Cronica – New Chronicles -, the bridge was badly damaged by another flood in 1333, and then rebuilt in 1345.

The Renaissance is not that far…

Ponte Vecchio and Giorgio Vasari

Being both an art historian and an artist, Giorgio Vasari has many connections with Ponte Vecchio.

As historian, Vasari attributes the last design of the bridge to the painter and architect Taddeo Gaddi.

Vasari could be wrong about this attribution, as the bridge project could possibly be by Neri di Fioravanti.

The main feature of the 1345 “version” of the bridge is the Torre Mannelli – we mentioned it, and the stubborness of the Mannelli family, in the previous post.

The late Middle Ages and Renaissance Ponte Vecchio was a busy one indeed, with lots of merchants.

The Corridoio Vasariano changed the layout of the bridge “vertically speaking”, while the last change dates to the XVII Century: until then the merchants worked on stalls, but in this time the botteghe – true shops, not just stalls – began to replace the wooden structures.

Ponte Vecchio today

While waiting for the reopening of the Corridoio Vasariano, strolling Ponte Vecchio is definitely a must do: see you there!

By |2017-09-25T17:59:30+00:00September 11th, 2017|Discovering Florence|0 Comments

About the Author:

My passion for languages and travels led me to study languages, particularly English and German, first at the Language High School and the at the Translator and Interpreter School in Florence. I then graduated at the University of Pisa in Languages, with a specialization in History of Art. I have been active in the tourist sector for almost 20 years and since 1997 I have been working as a licensed tourist guide in Florence. I have lots of interests like, for example, travels, wines … and more…

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