The most striking and oldest bridge in Florence still in existence is the Ponte Vecchio, literally: the old bridge. The Ponte Vecchio was designed by a student of Giotto, Taddeo Gaddi and was finished in 1345. The Ponte Vecchio is known for the many shops on and around the bridge, which used to be the domain of blacksmiths, tanners and butchers. They used the Arno river in Florence as a landfill. However, Duke Fernandino made sure they left because they caused too much noise and stench. They were replaced by jewelers and goldsmiths, who could also pay a higher rent.

The Ponte Vecchio is said to have existed since Roman times. The bridge was then only made of wood and after the flooding of the bridge in 1333, the Ponte Vecchio was rebuilt in stone in 1345. The bridge consists of three arches, of which the middle one is the largest at thirty meters in length. In the center of the bridge is a bust of Benvenuto Cellini, an Italian artist who started his career as a goldsmith on Ponte Vecchio. The bridge was not destroyed by the Germans in World War II, but a torrent in 1966 was less favorable to the bridge, causing a lot of gold capital to disappear in the Arno.

People who have read Dan Brown’s Inferno have heard of the Corridoio Vasariano, Vasari’s secret corridor. This elevated corridor crosses the shops of the Ponte Vecchio and connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace. Vasari designed this secret corridor on behalf of Cosimo I so that he and his family could move between his two palaces without being seen by the people. The Corridoio Vasariano is almost a kilometer in distance. At first there were four towers on the Ponte Vecchio. Three of the four were demolished during the construction of the Corridoio Vasariano. The fourth tower, that of the Mannelli family, was saved; the Vasari corridor had to be built around this by means of support beams. Unfortunately, the Corridoio Vasariana is under restoration, which means that the secret corridor is presumably not open until 2022 with guided tours.

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