Admiring the Ponte Vecchio Bridge

The Ponte Vecchio “Old Bridge” is located in Florence, Italy.  This Italian bridge crosses the river at its narrowest point within the city.  This area in Florence has had an eventful past, as the bridge is the 5th bridge on or around this spot since the days of the Ancient Romans. The current bridge was finished by 1350, built after a catastrophic flood in 1333 carried away its predecessor.

A few fun facts about the Ponte Vecchio:

The builder of the bridge is still unclear.
In the 16th Century, the first art historian, Giorgio Vasari (responsible for the corridor above the bridge), credited the design of the bridge to the Florentine artist and architect Taddeo Gaddi, a student of Giotto. However, there is no other evidence to corroborate this, and Vasari wasn’t always right. Another name that has been suggested is that of Neri di Fioravanti, but again modern scholars are skeptical without supporting evidence.

Ponte Vecchio was a defensive.
In Medieval Italy, the use of rivers to launch attacks was a well-established element of the art of war, and although Florence was surrounded by walls, an enemy might attack in boats along the Arno River itself. The Ponte Vecchio had four towers (two at each end), and walls with battlements running down both sides, broken only by the observation area in the very center of the bridge. The Mannelli tower (now much reduced) at the south end is the only obvious survivor of these fortifications. A document of 1346 lists regulations that include fines for shopkeepers breaking the exterior walls facing the river.

The bridge doubles as a shop rental.
To recoup the money spent on building the bridge, soon after its completion, the government of Florence rented out the 46 shops built on it. Shops had been built on the previous bridge, but being of wood, they tended to catch fire, so this time they were built of stone. Various tradesmen used the shops to start with, but in 1442 the government let them all to the Guild of Butchers. At first, they had strict control over the meat market, but in 1495 the government made the grave error of selling off the shops to raise cash which resulted in a decline of the prestigious bridge.

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Source of information can be found here.

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