Across the river Arno, at its narrowest point, there is a bridge called Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). The bridge was built in 1345, and is the only Florentine bridge that survived World War II.
The first bridge on this place was a wooden bridge built in the year 966, that was destroyed by a flood in 1117. Reconstructed from stone, it was swept away again in 1333.
Today’s bridge was built in 1335, and was attributed to Taddeo Gaddi by the architect and historian Giorgio Vasari, but its origin is still disputed.
Unlike all other bridges in Florence, Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed by the Germans in the World War II, apparently, because of an order from Hitler himself.
Ponte Vecchio is composed of three segmental arches: the main arch has a span of 30 meters and a 4.4 meters height, and the two side arches each span 27 meters and have a height of 3.5 meters.
Since the 13th century, shops have been built on the bridge. At first, there were all sorts of shops, from butchers to fishmongers, but in 1593, Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, decreed that only goldsmiths and jewellers will be allowed on the bridge.
In 1565, Giorgio Vasari built for the Medici family the Vasari Corridor, that passes over the shops of Ponte Vecchio, connecting Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio.
In the year 1900, a bronze bust of Benvenuto Cellini, a great Florentine sculptor and goldsmith, was placed in the middle of the bridge, on the Eastern side.
On 4th of November 1966, the bridge was severely damaged by flood of the river Arno.
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest bus stations are Ponte Vecchio, on the northern bank of the Arno River, and Bardi, on the southern bank, that can be reached with the buses of Line D3 or C.