Ponte Vecchio

Bridge in Florence

Ponte Vecchio Florence
Pixabay / Jeff Chabot

The Ponte Vecchio, an iconic symbol of Florence, holds the distinction of being the oldest crossing over the Arno River and has a rich history dating back to Roman times. The bridge has been rebuilt multiple times due to frequent floods, and its current version with three segmental arches was constructed in 1345, attributed to Taddeo Gaddi or Neri di Fioravante.

In the 15th century, the city authorities required butchers to move their shops onto the Ponte Vecchio to separate them from the city centre and facilitate waste disposal directly into the river. As a result, the bridge transformed into a meat market, and the butchers later gained ownership of the shops, adding extensions above the river supported by wooden poles.

Giorgio Vasari made a significant addition to the Ponte Vecchio’s appearance in 1565 by constructing the Vasari Corridor for Cosimo I de’ Medici. This elevated walkway connected the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti and passed above the shops on the eastern side of the bridge.

In the 17th century, the “retrobotteghe” or back-shops were added, supported by brackets, giving the bridge its distinct look. By the order of Ferdinand I, the fishmongers, butchers, and tanneries were replaced with goldsmiths and jewellers in 1593. Today, the shops on the Ponte Vecchio are still exclusively occupied by jewellers and goldsmiths, making it a popular shopping destination.

An interesting fact about the Ponte Vecchio is that it was the only bridge in Florence that the Germans did not destroy during World War II. This historical bridge continues to enchant visitors with its unique architecture and its association with the rich history and culture of Florence.


The Ponte Vecchio appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Florence!

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Visiting Ponte Vecchio

Hours:

24 Hours


Price:

Free

Address: Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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