The first bridge in Florence to ever cross the Arno, the Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, has withstood the test of time. The current bridge was built by the in 1345 after a flood destroyed the original (966-1218). Since then the Ponte Vecchio survived WWII as the only bridge crossing the Arno the Germans did not destroy. Miraculously the bridge also survived the 1966 flood, which ravaged the city, but thankfully gave mercy to the Ponte Vecchio.
So What’s the Deal
Shops have lined the Ponte Vecchio since it’s birth, including butchers, and other unpleasant-smelling stores that made the area-for lack of a better work- stink. In 1593, decreed by Ferdinand I, only jewelers and goldsmiths be allowed on the Ponte Vecchio, the stinky people would have to take their business elsewhere. This is a tradition that is still carried on through today.
But before this happened, Cosimo I decided he didn’t like the idea of walking through butchers and blood, so he had a corridor erected above the shops so he could walk from home to “work” without the unpleasant sights and smells. One family refused to tear down their tower for his corridor, so an improvisation was made and they built a detour around it.
How to Best Enjoy The Ponte Vecchio
There are several ways to enjoy the Ponte Vecchio, one of my favorite being the views from the two bridges on either side of it. The Ponte Trinita is great for lighting and if you want to take photos of yourself with the bridge (head over just before sunset to get optimum lighting and stunning views!) and then on the other side, Ponte alle Grazie, you get to see the sun set behind the Ponte Vecchio, romantic and great for scenic photos.
Want to just enjoy the ambiance and people watch? Grab a bottle of wine and a blanket, pack some bread and cheese, and read a book or watch the water go by as you sit in one of the archways of the oldest bridge in Florence.
Comment below to let us know YOUR thoughts on the Ponte Vecchio!