Monday, March 26, 2007

Ponte Vecchio

One of the most charming bridges in all of Italy lies across the Arno river in Firenze. The Ponte Vecchio, built in 1345 by Taddeo Gaddi, replaced a wooden crossing that had been washed away by a flood twelve years earlier. The overhanging shops in pale pastel colours add to the bridge’s enduring appeal.

Shop owners first set up businesses on the Ponte in the 12th century. Rumour has it that a tax exemption on the bridge played a large role in the creation of these premises. For centuries food stores monopolized the bridge until Ferdinando I de’ Medici had Giogio Vasari construct a corridor along the top of the bridge to link the Palazzo Veccio with his home. He couldn’t stand the smell of rancid meat emanating from the butcher shops below so he thus promptly expelled all such businesses along with any businesses deemed lower-class. Goldsmiths and jewelers promptly took their places and are still prominent along the bridge today.

The far bank across the bridge is bordered by the backs of picturesque houses, their foundations lightly bathed by the river. Beautiful views are seen looking both up and down the river in part of the oldest area of town.


During the German retreat at the end of World War II, the Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence not destroyed. This was apparently because of an express order by Hitler. As a result, this bridge is not only the oldest segmental arch bridge in Florence, but in all of Europe.

20 comments:

Mone said...

cool pics!! I havent been t Italy yet, even its not that far away. A must for the future :)

Carla said...

Mone, Italy is a definite must, but then again, I'd be happy traipsing just about anywhere in Europe.

tkkerouac said...

tkkerouac said...
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE LINKED UNDER MOMTHEMINX PLEASE COMMENT UNDER POST WITH YOUR BLOGNAME AND URL.

Cheryl said...

Great photos, Carla. I don't think I got any great pictures of it when we were there - you don't mind if I put all of your photos in the photo album of our trip do you? :D
How interesting that Hitler put in an order for it not to be destroyed.

The Fool said...

That bridge is ASTOUNDING. The colors are perfect. What a setting it would make for a book. You are a regular nomadette...and thank you for another enjoyable and enlightening post, Carla. What an adventure that place would be!

Carla said...

tkkerouac, thanks for the invite.

Cheryl, I know you're a good photographer...I'm sure your photos are fantastic.

I too was quite intrigued by that "Hitler" tidbit. I'm guessing he had an appreciation for objects / monuments of an artistic nature...he did, after all, at one time apire to be an artist.


Fool, If only we knew half the stories that bridge could tell! It would make for a great read, indeed. Adventure, most definitely.

BurdockBoy said...

Another lovely setting and great photos.

The bridge/shop reminds me of the former Coldwater Creek store in Sandpoint, Idaho. It is also a bridge that has shops on it ( actually I have a photo of it that I will put on my SP post).

Thanks again for sharing.

Carla said...

Burdockboy, I look forward to seeing your photos of the Coldwater Creek store. It sounds intriguing.

Dan said...

It's a beautiful bridge which I had the pleasure of seeing when I was in Florence. Wasn't there a fire in it within the last decade or so?

Carla said...

Dan, Isn't Florence a great city? I'm unsure about the fire...I'll have to look into that.

JBelle said...

I am wearing a medal and a chain from Firenze even as we speak!

BurdockBoy said...

Totally off subject, but I read this article in yesterdays NY Times. Funny those reporters seem to go everywhere. I have never been up to Whitewater, but I may have to for the food.

Happy weekend.

Carla said...

JBelle, What a coincidence!

Burdockboy, How ironic! But it's true...for years I have been wondering why other ski resorts serve such crap when I'm used to getting not just decent, healthy meals, but also delicious and all for a very reasonable price. I might just have to do a post on this. I happen to have the cookbook as well...it's one of my favorites, along with the Hollyhock, and the Rebar. Thanks for bringing the article to my attention.

Steffi said...

Very beautiful pictures!Italy is very nice.

Carla said...

Steffi, Italy truly is lovely. I would go back in a heartbeat.

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

What wonderful memories this brings. Thank you for bringing this amazing story to us!
Ciao!

Fede said...

Hello. Yes good pictures indeed. By the way, the rule not to bomb any of the most famous historical places was endorses by all the forces on the Italian ground during the II WW. I couldn't imagine a Rome without the Colosseum. Indeed this attitude inspired the famous movie:"Roma citta' aperta".
I think that Dan was referring to the theater:"La Fenice" in Venice. I'm not aware of any recent fire in Florence. As far as natural calamities, Florence had to manage a huge flooding back in 1950sh. Sorry, I get really verbose when Italy is about... Good night ad good luck.

Carla said...

Sandi, I'm glad you enjoyed the read.

Fede, Yes, with such a rich history, I can't imagine that any Italian would have been in agreement with bombing anything of historical value. Thanks for info about the flooding and the fire. So much to learn.

Mark said...

Wonderful bridge. The history that you provided made the bridge come alive for me, thanks.

Carla said...

Mark, I'm glad you enjoyed this post. It's been awhile since I've had a chance to check out anyone's blog. Life has been really hectic lately. Hopefully I can check yours out soon. I really enjoy your posts.