Stretching across the Arno River is the The Ponte Vecchio Bridge (old bridge). The Romans built a bridge on the same spot and it is thought that parts of the original Roman stone piers are still in use. Destroyed in the 1100’s and again in the 1300’s, the Ponte Vecchio Bridge was rebuilt in 1345 and survives to this day.
Various shops have always been hosted on the the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, and from the seventeenth century, additional shops were added on to the bridge. You can see all of the “added on” spaces just by looking at the outside of the bridge.
Safety And Security Across The Ponte Vecchio Bridge
In approximately 1560, a covered, fortified passage was built over the bridge to connect the Uffizi and the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace. This was a place to flee in case of an attack. It was also a convenient way to get from one side of the Arno river to the other without being noticed or going out in public. You can clearly see the Vasari Corridor as you travel across the bridge. Crossing from one side of the river to the other is quick and efficient using the corridor at the top of the Ponte Vecchio Bridge.
In 1593, butcher shops were forced to vacate the bridge (because of the bad smell they made) and gold merchants immediately moved in at the insistence of the Medici family. Today, gold merchants and jewelry stores crowd the bridge with their tiny shops filled with merchandise.
Escaping Damage From The War
In World War II, the retreating German Army did not destroy the bridge, even though the Germans destroyed all of the other bridges across the Arno river. The bridge access was blocked by all of the damage to the buildings at each end, so the bridge was useless for a time. It has been claimed that Hitler had forbidden his army from doing any damage to it. Hitler had previously walked across the bridge before the war and apparently wanted it preserved.
We enjoyed a leisurely stroll across the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. I had been looking forward to it for a long time. I particularly liked the feeling that the bridge is a living piece of history. The people selling their wares today are the current shopkeepers, who will be replaced by the next generation and the next…. The Ponte Vecchio Bridge is an enjoyable stroll in the afternoon and evening. There are many shops to browse in and street vendors abound. As you make your way around Florence, be sure to see it !
A walk across the bridge is a must-do while in Florence. The Vasari corridor above the street is not easy to view because it isn’t generally open to the public. That makes it all the more intriguing. You can go see the Ponte Vecchio Bridge anytime since The bridge is open 24 hours a day, so . Make a visit to the Ponte Vecchio Bridge any time of day. It’s always open for you!