10 July 2011
Ponte Vecchio – One of Florence, Italy's Greatest Treasures
Completed in 1345, the Ponte Vecchio or "Old Bridge" is truly one of Florence's greatest treasures. Not only is it one of the most visited places in Florence because of its treasure of gold and silver merchants, it's the only medieval bridge to survive WWII because of its historical significance. Once home to butchers, tanners and blacksmiths who used the river as their waste disposal and were later evicted in 1593, the bridge welcomed gold and silver smiths who continue to live and operate quaint little shops along this "treasured" landmark.
If you look closely in the photo below, you will see for yourself that many of these shops are actually cantilevered over the River Arno and supported only by wooden beams called "sporti." It's quite remarkable to see in person.
Below is a shot of the interior of the bridge at the midsection. Further down, the bridge reveals its treasures of gold and silver.
Near closing time on the Ponte Vecchio!
At the midway point along the bridge, if you look out over the River Arno and to the left, you will the exterior of the Uffizi Museum, another of Florence's greatest treasures.
Did you know?
In 1565, Cosimo I de Medici ordered the construction of the "Vasari Corridor," a corridor that extends from the Uffizi Museum, across the Ponte Vecchio and culminates at the Pitti Palace in Oltrarno, the other side of the river. Catherine de Medici used to pull herself along a railing along the corridor in her later years. This "hidden" passageway closed to the public when I was there, is now open for public tours and I urge you to take advantage of the historic journey. Look carefully at the photos above of the interior or exterior of the bridge and you will see windows or little portals into the Vasari Corridor. You can book a tour of the Uffizi Museum and the Vasari Corridor via Viator. Check it out.
Can't get enough Florence? Read more below: