The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is perhaps Florence’s most famous landmark. And that’s really saying something considering the entire heart of this beautiful Tuscan city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Despite being the oldest bridge in Florence (and the only one not blown up by retreating German troops during World War II), the Ponte Vecchio is actually the fourth bridge to cross the River Arno at this point, the first of which was built by the Romans.
Constructed in 1345 after its previous incarnation was destroyed by a flood, the bridge is famous for the shops that line it. These buildings used to be much more uniform, but changes made by individual owners down through the centuries have lead to their current rambling character. By contrast, all sorts of services once occupied the bridge’s shops, including fishmongers and tanners. The resultant stink eventually resulted in a law being passed in 1593, decreeing only goldsmiths and jewelers were allowed on the bridge.
After Florence’s ruling Medici family built their new Palazzo Pitti on the far bank of the Arno in 1457, they eventually decided they needed a route to the famous Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio that eliminated them having to go anywhere near the common people they governed. The solution was the construction of the Corridoio Vasariano (Vasari Corridor) in 1565. The passageway is well over half a mile long and crosses the Ponte Vecchio above the shops on its eastern, upstream side.
The Ponte Vecchio is a perfect example of how functionality and beauty can be combined in Harmony.
This post was inspired by the photo theme of Bridges from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge and Harmony from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack? It’s dedicated to my friend Amy, who’s lucky enough to be in Florence (working, to be fair) this week.
Sorry the images aren’t as crisp as usual, but they’re all scans of photos taken a few years back!
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