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Friday, 17 July 2015

A Walking Tour Of Florence Pt 4: Ponte Vecchio


Ponte Vecchio which means 'Old Bridge' is indeed the oldest among six bridges across Arno River in Florence. Let's see what's so special about this bridge and why tourists make it a point to visit Ponte Vecchio when they are in Florence.
We walked from Via Por Santa Maria (Por Santa Maria Street) straight onto Ponte Vecchio little realizing we were already on the bridge. There are shops on the left and right and it looks very much like a pedestrianized street. 
Ponte Vecchio is robust and vibrant as shoppers and window shoppers, locals and tourists congregate. Some shopped, some busy taking photographs while others just strolled along.
You will only know it is a bridge if you step out and look at it from the riverbank. The setting of the bridge with commercial activities from the shops has deceived the unsuspecting me into thinking I was walking on a street. This is one of the things that make Ponte Vecchio so unique.
The rows of shops are interrupted in the centre by an open terrace.
This open area is a good place to get a panoramic view of Arno River, the neighboring bridges and the riverbanks.
Towards its west lies Ponte Santa Trinita (Santa Trinita Bridge) which runs parallel to it.
Towards the east is Ponte Alle Grazie(Alle Grazie Bridge).  Both these bridges are obviously no match for Ponte Vecchio in terms of uniqueness and charm.
View of the riverbank from Ponte Vecchio
View of the riverbank from Ponte Vecchio
In the open terrace area stands the Monument of Benvenuto Cellini. The gates that enclose the monument are full of padlocks placed by lovers who believe they will be eternally bonded if they lock their padlock and throw the keys into the river.
This bridge was built, destroyed by flood, rebuilt and subsequently restructured. Initially greengrocers, butchers and fishmongers were among the shop owners, causing a repulsive stench in the vicinity. To upgrade the image of the bridge, these businesses were later taken over by goldsmiths and silversmiths. Today the existing shops sell among other things, jewelries, souvenirs and artworks.

Ponte Vecchio is 98 feet long and 105 wide at its widest points. Bewitched by its alluring charm, I turned back to snap many photos of Ponte Vecchio at different points of the riverbank as we departed the place.



I just couldn't get enough of it and snapped many more from Michelangelo Square.

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