How fascinating is the structure of the Ponte Vecchio Bridge of Florence?
The Ponte Vecchio Bridge, or Old Bridge of Florence, was constructed very close to the Roman crossing and was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. After a flood in 1345, the present Ponte Vecchio Bridge was reconstructed. It was the only bridge across the Arno during World War II that the fleeing Germans had not destroyed. Rather, they blocked entry by demolishing each side of the medieval structures. On November 4, 1966, when the Arno burst its banks again, Ponte Vecchio Florence miraculously withstood the immense weight of water and silt. The first bridge since 966 can be recorded and even its reconstruction after the flood in 1345 can be documented. However, a bit of a mystery resides with regard to the present construction of Ponte Vecchio Florence.
Although the Ponte Vecchio Bridge was attributed to Taddeo Gaddi by Giorgio Vasari, an artist and chronicler from the 1500s, the design seems to hint more towards the Dominican friars’ involvement with their sharp grasp of proportion, harmony, and numerical use. However, we do realize that the bridge was designed as a defence system, and the windows and architectural features we can now appreciate were introduced to the merchants after the shops were sold.
When the Medici relocated from Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti, they believed it was necessary to have a connecting route from the Uffizi to the Palazzo Pitti on the other side of the Arno which would enable them to stay out of touch with the people they controlled. The consequence was the Corridoio Vasariano, designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1565 that runs above the shops of the little goldsmiths at Ponte Vecchio. The Ponte Vecchio Bridge has had stores since the 13th century. It is also possible to enjoy from the Ponte Vecchio Bridge the dramatic performances, occasional concert, and boat trips seen below.