The Oldest Bridge in Florence, for Jake’s Theme


Jake’s theme this week is ‘Bridge’ and as I’ve shown you many bridges for previous challenges, I decided this time to single out only one. The Ponte Vecchio is the most famous bridge in Florence, and also the oldest, being the only surviving bridge from Florence’s medieval days. Other bridges in Florence were destroyed in World War II, but legend has it that Hitler really took a liking to this particular bridge and therefore ordered it to be spared. This structure with three stone arches replaced a wooden bridge which had crossed the Arno River at this spot since Roman times. The original bridge was destroyed by flood in 1117, and was reconstructed in stone, but was once again swept away in the terrible flood of November 1333, when according to the chronicles of Giovanni Villani, all but the two central piers, was swept away when huge logs in the rushing water became clogged around the it, allowing the water to build and “leap over the arches.” It was rebuilt in 1345.

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The bridge has always had shops along it, and initially these were butchers’ shops, but it is reported that the Medici family, who used the corridor on the second level as a pathway across the river, decided the smell of raw meat was too nauseating, so in the late 16th century, the meat was replaced with something much less offensive to the nostrils; gold, silver and jewels.Β  Today, as well as jewellers, there are also art dealers and souvenir sellers.

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Along the bridge there are many padlocks to be seen, affixed in various places. ThisΒ  is a quite recent tradition which has also sprung upΒ  in Russia and in Asia, and is popularly connected to the idea that by locking the padlock and throwing the key into the river, lovers become eternally bonded. In the case of the Ponte Vecchio, it is suspected to have been the bright idea of a locksmith who just happened to have a shop on the bridge. πŸ™‚ Thousands of such ‘love locks’ have had to be removed because they were damaging the metal rails on the bridge, and a sign was put up forbidding the practice and warning of a hefty fine for people caught, but nevertheless people stillΒ  do it.

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Hubby and I have no doubt that after all these years, our love will last forever, so we didn’t need to risk the fine. πŸ™‚

I hope you’ve enjoyed my bridge photos and the bit of history too. To see more entries for Jake’s theme, just click here

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74 comments on “The Oldest Bridge in Florence, for Jake’s Theme

  1. I loved that bridge. I could have looked for ever. Everything that sparkles IS gold! πŸ™‚ What a lovely share for this challenge, Sylvia. πŸ™‚

  2. Interesting to see how time changes architecture as well as merchant development. I enjoyed your historical bridge tour. 😊

  3. Ponte Vecchio truly is one of the most beautiful ever. Thanks for the history too.

  4. Wow those pictures are gorgeous!
    And if you don’t mind me asking, could you visit my blog and read something I posted in English? I started it a few days ago and I could use some helpful hints/opinions, thank you so much!

  5. What fun! It’s such an interesting bridge. I’ve seen these padlocks in other articles (in other places), but I’ve never seen them in person. Now, every time I see an abandoned lock… I’ll wonder.

  6. Fortunately the silly practice with the locks seems to be fading. Perhaps the fines have done the trick. The authorities are also very quick to remove the locks so there is not much incentive to put them there.

  7. That is a stunning bridge indeed AD. Lovely shots and entry for the challenge hon. πŸ˜€ *hugs*

  8. This was a lovely post.. enjoyed the history lesson and the photos… who needs padlocks when you’re been together so long…

  9. It’s a real trip of a bridge, isn’t it? And your pictures, and historical synopsis terrific. Never had enough money to patronise the jewellers shops, but I bought a spiffing pair of red leather driving gloves there ounce!

  10. Terrific entry, Ad! I’ve always wanted to see this bridge, and Florence has been on my “list” since I don’t know when. Appreciate the bit of history too. It just shows- we think our weather this year is extreme (it is!) but we’ve always had catastrophic floods and the like. πŸ™‚

  11. Sylvia — Nice essay and support photos for the Ponte Vecchio. It rivals the Ponte Rialto in Venice. It’s probably a coin-toss between the two, with a slight edge going to Rialta for the canal scene below and away.

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