Literally translated to “Old Bridge”, Ponte Vecchio certainly lives up to its name, with centuries of history squashed into Florence’s shortest and most famous bridge. Spanning the Arno River at its most narrow point, it is believed that a former Roman bridge was built in the same spot prior to Ponte Vecchio’s construction in 1345.
During World War II, when every bridge in Florence was destroyed during the Nazi’s retreat and bombing of the city, Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge to survive mostly unscathed. The bridge’s most notable damage happened in 1966 with the catastrophic Arno River flooding which killed over 100 people and damaged millions of artworks and historical books.
One of the most recognizable features of the bridge, in addition to its three segmental arches, is the unique enclosed passageway above the main pedestrian pavement of the bridge called the Vasari Corridor. It was commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici in order to connect the Palazzo Vecchio (Florence’s town hall) with the Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace) and the Boboli Gardens on the south side of the river. The elevated pathway also connects to the Uffizi Gallery, one of Florence’s top art museums.
In the early 2000’s the bridge was overtaken by padlocks known as “love locks” which were subsequently removed by the city, and now carries an expensive fine to anyone attaching locks anywhere on the bridge.
Our Florence Day Bike Tour cruises along the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio is the ideal backdrop while exploring the history and beauty of Florence. In your free time wandering the city, be sure to stroll down the bridge in the more quiet hours and enjoy the sunset views or scour for unique jewelry or hand crafted goods from its many vendors.