Florence travel guide

The tower of Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio, one of the most famous bridges, crossed by millions of tourists to get to the other side of the city, in the picturesque Oltrarno district.

Whoever crosses it is fascinated by the splendor of the shop windows with precious jewelry and the romantic view of the Arno River.

Damaged several times by floods, it was then destroyed in 1333 in the disastrous historical flood.

The one we see was built in 1345 by Taddeo Gaddi, who designed a bridge with three wide segmental arches instead of five round ones. This solution facilitated the passage of debris brought by any floods.

At one time there were four towers on the bridge, two protecting the entrance to the city and two to the south, in Oltrarno, in the direction that led to Rome.

Of these towers only one remains, the Mannelli tower.

In 1565, during the construction of the Vasari Corridor, private homes had to be knocked down and broken into. But the Mannelli family, owners of the ancient tower, objected, claiming the historical importance of their property.

The Grand Duke Medici surrendered, saying: "Everyone is master in his own house!"

But the works had to go on (the work was completed in only 5 months for the imminent wedding of Francis I and Joan of Austria!) and the architect Vasari built the corridor passing around the tower, creating that narrow gallery supported by arches and corbels that still characterizes the south side of the bridge.

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