Is there anyone who does not know this gem of Italian architecture ? Probably one of the most photographed places around the country is this "Old Bridge " as translated into English. It is in the Tuscan city of Florence, the birthplace of the Italian performance and a city full of romance. It crosses the Arno River , a stream of 41 kilometers which flows into the city of Pisa.
Why does this bridge deserve to be in our section of bridges in the world ? It is true that this is a very old bridge , dating back to 1333 at least. However, as it is our intention throughout this series of posts , we want to approach these constructions from a new perspective . We want to mention four details that perhaps you did not know about it:
The first one has to do with the date of construction . It is completely ignored because, like many other ancient bridges, it is an infrastructure that was originally made of wood by the Romans , so it may be possible to assign it a few more centuries .
But that is not all . Another interesting fact is related to what makes it peculiar today, its many buildings , small shops where all kinds of souvenirs are sold. Few bridges have the honour to host such a display of trades . It seems that all this activity began shortly after its construction because it was a tax-free place for merchants . Obviously this led to the emergence of many tables that were overseen by a magistrate . Even more, thanks to this original activity the term bankruptcy was probably coined in Florence, because when a merchant could not pay his debts, soldiers were responsible for throwing him out of the bridge and breaking his table.
Anyway, it seems that the guild which prospered the most over the river Arno was that of the butchers . Granted, that differs a lot from the objects that attract tourists now, and we can hardly imagine what would that place be today if it continued to be a varied counter of meat. The event that pushed the butchers off the bridge was the construction of the Vasari Corridor , an elevated deck that made use of the bridge to connect the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti. It seems that the Duke who commissioned this corridor, Cosimo I de' Medici , would not tolerate such an activity as he passed by, so in the end the vacant stalls were eventually occupied by jewelers, indeed, one of the most important unions in the bridge today.
Approaching the architecture knowing this information makes it much more fun and that is one of the reasons why we, as surely you too, like traveling so much.