Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

History and curiosity of the golden bridge of Florence

A Brief History
Ponte Vecchio, the first and the oldest, which crosses the Arno River in its narrowest point. The first building , wood , dating back to Roman times, then it was rebuilt in 1345 by Taddeo Gaddi, Giotto's disciple on three arches deeper. During the Second World War the Germans retreated northwards decided to blow up all the bridges over the Arno but in the face of so much beauty even the ferocity of the conflict gave a start and it was the only bridge not to be undermined and remain intact.

Prior to its former glory and fame for which he is now known , until the Renaissance was the bridge of butchers and greengrocers. When the hall was built in 1565 by architect Giorgio Vasari to join the Palazzo Pitti at the Palazzo Vecchio those shops were considered inappropriate and it was decided to grant the eviction of butchers craftsmen and goldsmiths. In fact, in honor goldsmith, was placed on the terrace in the middle of the bridge is a fountain with a bust of the great master Benvenuto Cellini, the most illustrious Florentine goldsmith work of the sculptor Raffaello Romanelli.

The Ponte Vecchio was visited by Hitler, Mussolini and the Fascist and Nazi hierarchy at the time of travel of the Germans in Italy in 1938 in search of alliances. For that occasion were opened three panoramic windows in the center of the Vasari Corridor. Following the retreat of Nazi troops , this was the only bridge in Florence that was not destroyed by the Germans in 1944 during the Second World War, this is also thanks to the providential intervention of the German representative in Florence, Gerhard Wolf, who after the war obtained for this and other merits an honorary citizen of Florence, and is commemorated by a plaque affixed to the bridge itself.

However, were heavily damaged the access points to the bridge , the areas of Via Por Santa Maria, Via Guicciardini and Borgo San Jacopo, who today are so incongruously modern because of the hasty reconstruction of the early fifties. The Vasari Corridor in the turbulent days of the liberation was the only way to move between the north and south of the city , as is also evidenced in the episode dedicated to Florence in the film by Roberto Rossellini Paisà, where the main character goes undercover as a rake Gallery Uffizi packed full of ancient statues .

One of the most original sundials of the city, as well as on the facade of Santa Maria Novella designed by the father Egnazio Danti, is situated right on the Ponte Vecchio. Crossing the bridge in the direction of the Oltrarno and up to the terrace in the center of which stands the bust of Cellini, looking towards the Arno and voltandovi slightly to the right, with the nose , stands an object of odd shape as a crescent above a column. You are looking at the sundial , or rather, the sundial (in canonical hours) of Ponte Vecchio. The basement beneath the pillar that supports the device, although eroded by the weather, shows an inscription, which informs us that "In the thirty- after' the thousand three hundred fell on the deck of the flood waters then twelve years old, as the Common pleased , was redone with this adornment ".

The reference is to the catastrophic flood of 1333 that, on November 4, destroyed the bridges in the city and did great harm to all districts. Were affected in many works of art, especially the commemorative columns, like that of St. Zanobi in Piazza San Giovanni, who was overwhelmed and swept away by wave of flood. It was on this occasion that was lost statue of the saint who stood on the column and that was never more than replaced. The flood of the Arno took away , among other works , the statue of Mars, the Roman era, which was said to have been found in the temple in honor of this deity exists on the site of the Baptistery. Located near the Ponte Vecchio, was swept away and lost forever.

Also lowered the arches of the Ponte Vecchio in itself represent an architectural solution rather curious. The profile of the Ponte Vecchio, which is part of its charm, is actually due to an expedient which saved him from the numerous destructions suffered over the centuries. Ponte Vecchio was the first bridge in the story in which you used for building arches. This innovative solution allowed to have fewer spans (three instead of five) and wider, thus allowing the debris carried by the floods and that could destroy the bridge, to flow out more easily. Since then, the Ponte Vecchio is still standing, damaged and repaired several times but never destroyed.