Ponte Vecchio & Arno River, Florence

4 out of 5 stars 4 Stars - 203 Reviews

Been here? Rate It!

hide
  • Ponte Vecchio & Arno River
    by goodfish
  • Ponte Vecchio & Arno River
    by goodfish
  • Ponte Vecchio & Arno River
    by goodfish
  • MrDoitAll's Profile Photo

    Ponte Vecchio

    by MrDoitAll Written Dec 29, 2013

    Ponte Vecchio was a tremendous experience. The abundant amount of tourists serve as a reminder that you're on a piece of history that is very alluring. The archways are beatuiful featuring breath taking views of the north and south views of the majestic Arno's reach. The high end jewelry and pottery shops are captivating and awe inspiring. The locals are pretty obvious as they are also captivated by the tourists' rubbernecking and overt peering. Visual stimulation can be overwhelming so if possible go with a small group that has similar aesthetic interests. Example, I'm a watch buff so the swiss and Italian watches froze me while my gelato hunting herum constantly left me behind... not a good idea to get separated from your crew here, yelling is futile amongst the hustle and bustle.
    Beware, however to mind your belongings as the midday shoulder to shoulder crowd makes great opportunity for a pickpocket to maneuver within striking distance.

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad
    • Historical Travel
    • Luxury Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Span of Centuries

    by goodfish Updated Dec 4, 2012

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    4 more images

    It’s one of the most beloved and iconic of Florentine treasures and one best seen from anywhere but ON the thing itself. Ponte Vecchio is actually the most recent in a series of spans at this point of the Arno - there has been a bridge here since Roman times - but the 'new kid on the block' is nearly 700 years old and one of very few in existence to retain the essence of its Medieval heritage. Constructed in 1345, its long, low arches required few supporting piers to impede the flow of water underneath, and provided a gentle pitch for pedestrians and carts. And like similar bridges of the European Middles Ages, constant traffic and proximity to a busy river trade and made it a convenient and profitable place to set up shop.

    Times being what they were, some of those smelled to high heaven (‘offal’ an applicable pun here) in the heat of summer, and the river also provided a dumping ground for all sorts of unwanted waste so it wasn’t exactly fragrant either. When Giorgio Vasari built a private passageway on top of the shops so the aristocracy could travel between the Medici residence, Palazzo Pitti, and government headquarters in Palazzo Vecchio without mingling with the riffraff, the reigning duke banned the more odiferous trades from the bridge and it became a more dignified mecca for gold and silversmiths.

    And so it has endured: a curiously harmonious jumble of cantilevered, green-shuttered buff, gold and melon-colored boxes and graceful arches that’s particularly lovely when reflected in a slow-moving Arno. So lovely, in fact, that it was spared the destruction of every other Florentine bridge during WWII: even the Nazis couldn’t bear to blow it up. As poetic as it appears at a distance, the pedestrian-only span is overrun with tourists a good share of the time and while precious metalware still glitters in the shop windows, price tags are (not surprisingly) inflated. Shutterbugs, get your shots from a distance: Piazzale Michelangelo, certain windows in the Uffizi, or Pontes Santa Trinita or Alle Grazie.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Budget Travel
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • solopes's Profile Photo

    Ponte Vecchio

    by solopes Updated Sep 8, 2012
    Florence - Italy
    1 more image

    Our 5th minute was used to cross Ponte Vecchio. As a matter of fact the more that we saw was... heads.

    It was not high season, but... It's decided, next visit must be in winter. However, we could see what made it famous - the long line of shops, along its three arches, since 1345. So much time that (it seems), even Hitler refused to destroy it.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo

    Ponte Vecchio

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jun 17, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ponte Vecchio
    3 more images

    The Ponte Vecchio or "Old Bridge is a Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River. It is noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common. Butchers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewellers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. The Ponte Vecchio's two neighbouring bridges are the Ponte Santa Trinita and the Ponte alle Grazie.

    Built very close to the Roman crossing, the Old Bridge was until 1218 the only bridge across the Arno in Florence. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side.
    Open all of the time, along the pedestrian zone south of Piazza della Repubblica towards Palazzo Pitti.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • fabric_letters's Profile Photo

    Beautiful bridge

    by fabric_letters Written May 26, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ponte Vecchio

    Perfect for a stroll across the river Arno the 'old bridge' is scattered with over hanging shops like jewellers and art dealers this bridge is a gem which even the Nazis felt was to beautiful to destroy.

    A recent tradition has found people locking padlocks at certain points by the bridge and then throwing the key into the river, the lovers are then ment to became eternally bonded.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Benson35's Profile Photo

    The bridge of fine jewellery!

    by Benson35 Updated Jan 23, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This bridge is unique to look at from the banks of the Arno River. It's shops jut out of the bridge and are beautifully coloured. It is the oldest arch bridge in Florence and has withstood many floods.

    The bridge has souvnir, art and jewellery shops along boths sides. It is quite narrow, and every time I have been on it, it has been rather busy.
    Although it is busy in peak season, it is well worth the visit. The jewellery in just the shop windows are beautiful. I was like a magpie drawn to shining and sparkling objects!!! This is not the place for bargin hunting! The shops themselves are old and I loved taking in the structure and facades. It's a great place to feel the buzz and excitement of this tourist attraction.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • sue_stone's Profile Photo

    Take a walk over the Arno

    by sue_stone Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Looking down the river to the Ponte Vecchio
    4 more images

    The Ponte Vecchio is a bridge over the River Arno and is the oldest surviving bridge in Florence - it has withstood flood and war since 1345. In fact it was the only bridge in Florence to survive Nazi explosives in 1944.

    It is unique, as both edges of the bridge are lined with buildings.

    Originally these buildings housed butcher shops, but these were eventually closed down as the butchers used to throw unwanted leftovers into the river, polluting it.

    It is now lined with jewellery shops, making it not just a Must See Activity, but a chance for some shopping as well!

    In the middle of the bridge there is a gap in the shops, enabling you a great view of the river and the buildings on opposite banks.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    The oldest bridge in Florence

    by Jefie Updated Jun 25, 2010

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy
    2 more images

    The Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge" in Italian) dates back to 1345, and it's the only bridge in Florence that was not destroyed by the German troops when they retreated in August 1944. It's built practically at street level, so when there are lots of people around you hardly even notice when you start crossing the bridge! What makes Ponte Vecchio so interesting is that it still holds several shops on both sides, just like in the old days. When the bridge was first built, most of the space was occupied by blacksmiths and butcher stalls, but they were eventually replaced by jewellers by order of Ferdinando de Medici. This explains why we still mostly find jewelleries on Ponte Vecchio today instead of the expected souvenir shops. The "Vasari Corridor" runs on one side of the bridge (the left side when looking towards the Oltrarno area); this sheltered hallway was built 1564 to allow the Medici family to walk from the Palazzo Vecchio to their new residence, Palazzo Pitti, located on the other side of the Arno River, without having to mingle with the population. The corridor can be recognized thanks to a series of small, round windows.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tijavi's Profile Photo

    Surviving the butchers and Hitler

    by Tijavi Updated Apr 9, 2010

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A romantic view of Ponte Vecchio from P. Trinita
    4 more images

    It would be hard to imagine Florence without Ponte Vecchio, but this would have been the case had the Nazis decided to bomb this historic bridge to smithereens during World War II - some say on express orders by the butcher himself, Hitler (another version says the officer tasked to do it disobeyed his orders).

    Speaking of butchers, back in the time of the Medicis, the bridge used to house the city's butchers (the real, legitimate ones), who used to throw leftover carcasses to the poor Arno river. In a bold attempt at gentrification, Ferdinand I de Medici ordered the removal of the butchers and in their place, jewellery merchants, which to this days remains the main tenants on the shops lining the bridge.

    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    The Old Bridge

    by Tom_Fields Written Dec 29, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Ponte Vecchio
    3 more images

    The Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, has stood over the Arno River since 1345. Designed by Neri di Fioravante, it has seen many changes over the centuries. Shops, cafes, and other businesses line the street. Along the way is a bust of celebrated sculptor Benuvenuto Cellini.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Maria81's Profile Photo

    Ponte Vecchio

    by Maria81 Written Dec 21, 2009
    Ponte Vecchio at Dusk

    What is it?

    Ponte Vecchio, or 'the Old Bridge', is the only one of the city's bridges to have survived World War II. Today, it is a shopping arcade of sorts, traditionally mostly jewellers since the days of the Medici.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Photography
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • apbeaches's Profile Photo

    Ponte Vecchio

    by apbeaches Written Oct 12, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge, is a Medieval bridge over the Arno River,noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common. Butchers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, leather shops, art dealers and souvenir sellers. It has been described as Europe's oldest wholly-stone, closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge.

    The bridge spans the Arno at its narrowest point where it is believed that a bridge was first built in Roman times. The Roman piers were of stone, the superstructure of wood. The bridge first appears in a document of 996. It is believed that the concept of bankruptcy originated here: when a merchant could not pay his debts, the table on which he sold his wares (the "banco") was physically broken ("rotto") by soldiers, and this practice was called "bancorotto" (broken table; possibly it can come from "banca rotta" which means "broken bank". Not having a table anymore, the merchant was not able to sell anything.

    During World War II, the Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed by Germans during their retreat of August 4, 1944, unlike all other bridges in Florence. This was allegedly because of an express order by Hitler. Access to Ponte Vecchio was, however, obstructed by the destruction of the buildings at both ends, which have since been rebuilt using a combination of original and modern design.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • xxsentiaxx's Profile Photo

    jewelry heaven

    by xxsentiaxx Written Sep 30, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ponte Vecchio

    Take a walk across the Ponte Vecchio. However, it can get so very crowded that I wouldn't do it during any time but the early morning before the crowds start gathering. The bridge is lined with expensive jewelry shops. Good for window shopping but I'm not sure there are any deals to be found. If you can steal a spot near the edge you can get pretty pictures of the Arno River.

    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • vl92064's Profile Photo

    Ponte Vecchio

    by vl92064 Updated Sep 28, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ponte Vecchio

    The “Ponte Vecchio” (“Old Bridge”) is a symbol of Florence. First constructed by Romans at the narrowest point of the Arno river.
    It is the only bridge that wasn’t destroyed by the Nazis during their Italian withdraw in 1944.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • JoostvandenVondel's Profile Photo

    The Golden Bridge

    by JoostvandenVondel Written Aug 5, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ponte Vecchio
    1 more image

    Spanning the Arno river, which originates in the Tuscan Apennines and flows into the Ligurian Sea at Pisa, is another one of Florence's tourist icons, the Ponte Vecchio.

    A bridge has been located at this point of the Arno since the Roman times but the original structure dates from 1345. It consists of three segmental arches and is topped by shops and merchants displaying their goods. Originally home to the city's butchers, the Medici Grand Dukes prohibited them from selling their wares on the bridge and instead were replaced by Goldsmiths. They, as well as jewellers and tourist shops are still found on the bridge today.

    You can not help but cross the Arno as a tourist, be it to view the shops, the street buskers or to share a romantic moment, but aside from the historical and sentimental importance of the bridge, it is also a main feature of a lovely river and a pratical means of exploring Florence's south bank which is a must for visitors who are staying more than a day or two in the Tuscan capital.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Florence

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

69 travelers online now

Comments

Hotels Near Ponte Vecchio & Arno River
4.5 out of 5 stars
458 Opinions
0.1 miles away
Show Prices
4.0 out of 5 stars
491 Opinions
0.1 miles away
Show Prices
4.5 out of 5 stars
316 Opinions
0.1 miles away
Show Prices

View all Florence hotels