Bridges of Florence – First walk
In this first walk (a perfect Spring time promenade) we will follow the “Arno” river banks (the so called “Lungarni”) starting from the very centre of the town and heading east. And obviously the starting point will be the most famous bridge of Florence (and perhaps one of the most famous of the world...).
This bridge is one of the city’s symbols and crosses the river on its narrower part. After the terrible flood of 1333 it was rebuilt in 1345 by Taddeo Gaddi and Neri Fioravanti, with a three-arch structure and two sidelines of artisan shops on top. Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge not to be destroyed by the Germans during their 1944 retreat. Ponte Vecchio conserves as a typical medieval bridge all the small jewellery shops that continue to attract so many tourists. But more than any thing, Ponte Vecchio is the place where lovers traditionally exchange promises, you can spot them obviously at sunset when the ancient walls and arches are coloured in pink .
Ponte alle Grazie
Just a five minutes walk from the Ponte Vecchio, stands Florence’s third bridge in stonework, built in 1237 with nine arches over the largest part of the river. In 1292 numerous small wood constructions started to be built, most of them being tabernacles, then transformed into chapels, hermitages and shops. Among these constructions were the “murate” cells, where a small community of cloistered nuns had stayed since 1320. Among these chapels was one with a Madonna commissioned by the Alberti family, depicted in the first pillar of the ancient structure, called Santa Maria alle Grazie, from which it derives its present name. The ancient buildings were demolished in 1876 to allow the passing of the trolley bus. The bridge was destroyed by the Germans in 1944, and its new reconstruction was completed in 1957.
From “Ponte alle Grazie”, following the “Lungarno” opposite to Ponte Vecchio and looking at the magnificent view of ancient buildings of both sides of the river. And if you happen to be on the northern bank you can also admire the beautiful white Romanic church of San Miniato dominating the hill of the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Ponte di San Niccolò
The next crossing of the river is a suspended bridge, dedicated to Saint Fernando, was built between 1836 and 1837 by the company Séguin, as former Ponte San Leopoldo (the present Ponte alla Vittoria). It was rebuilt in 1890, allowing trolley bus transportation, and was then closed in 1939. A temporary bridge was built by the Allies in 1944, and it was finally substituted by the final and present bridge, built by R. Moranti, in 1949.
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