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.  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. This  is a quite recent tradition which has also sprung up  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. 🙂 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 still  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. 🙂

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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