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