Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence. In 1345 the current bridge replaced an earlier wooden one that was swept away in a flood. It is also the only bridge that was not bombed during World War II.
Goldsmiths took up resident centuries ago, building extensions from their shops that overhang the river. Although no craftsmen actually "work" in their shops today, the jewellery is beautiful.
The area is great for people watching, enjoying the river, and side-stepping hawkers, portrait artists, and souvenir vendors.
We had nice weather for our walk across the bridge and even though it was a holiday and the shops were closed, had a really nice time taking in the sites around the river. We made it to the other side and walked along Via de' Guicciardini, down some little streets, and then along Lungarno Torrigiani and back across Ponte Santa Trinita for nice views of Ponte Vecchio. On the Lungarno Torrigiani side are the Museo Di Storia Della Scienza (science museum), Meseo Horne, and the Biblioteca Nazionale (National Library). It was a nice area and one of the things I loved were the "expressive" fountains (see 2nd photo in tip).
You can spend as much or as little time visiting Ponte Vecchio - a quick trip to the bridge or a leisurely walk to the other side. This was my 3rd or 4th trip to Florence and the first time I made the trip across. Definitely recommend doing that.
The Arno River is swift at times and it adds to the pleasure of great scenery. It is and was am important method to move goods to the sea and it ends in Pisa. The river originates in the hills of the Apennines. It has flooded cities many times. The latest for Florence was in 1966 for Florence when it rained nearly 8 inches in 24 hours.
One of the symbols of Florence, I feel that the more you look at Ponte Vecchio the more you fell in love with its corners, with its light, with the colors, with the river.
Just go there as often as you can, in the morning, at sunset and during the night...and stay for a while.
Before coming to Florence, I was having a drink with an American student in Venice and we were discussing the usual travelers' tales - so I asked him what he thinks of Florence. His first impression? The the polluted Arno river. From then on, the vision of a polluted river stuck and that was the first thing that came to my mind when I finally got my chance to see the river myself - and yes, it looked and smelled pollution! This was even confirmed by the staff at the hotel, but they were unapologetic about it. One even does some sculling on the river, as do some brave Florentines every afternoon.
Pollution tales aside, the river projects an enchanting image during sunset. Perhaps the best way to maximize your Arno experience is to view the river from different vantage points. Piazzale Michelangelo is the best place to catch a bird's eye view of the river and the city, while Ponte Vecchio views are best enjoyed from Ponte Santa Trinita. The changing colors of the autumn sunset - from purplish pink to deep reddish orange reflecting on the Arno are mesmerizing.
The Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge is an inhabited urban bridge lined with jewellers shops.
The current structure was built in 1345.
It is the only of Florence's bridges which survived WWII and several floods.
The Ponte Vecchio crosses the river Arno in the centre of Florence and connects the Uffizi Gallery with Palazzo Pitti.
The most famous bridge in Florence, it was first built in the Middle Ages and was loned with butcher shops and the such. When the Vasari Corridor was built in 1565, The Medici Dukes prohibited them from selling there. This is one part to increase the prestige and one part to reduce the smell. In their place, jewelers set up shop and they have been there ever since.
The Ponte Vecchio today is one of the most famous sites in all of Florence.
The Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano) that connects the Uffizi Gallery with the Pitti Palace hosts a rich collection of self-portraits by past and present artists. Built by Vasari in 1565, it passes above the Ponte Vecchio, the "Old Bridge" (infact the oldest bridge in the city), with its many jewelry shops. My dad who loves window shopping thoroughly enjoyed himself as we walked this route :D
Ponte Vecchio is a window shoppers paradise, little did I know what Andrew was planning else I may have paid even more attention.
The bridge is lined with jewellry shops, tiny little places, with all kinds of weird and wonderful jewels. There are a couple of places specialising in antique jewellry which I really liked.
Another highlight you must not miss when in Florence.
It is over the Arno River (which severely damaged it in the 1966 flood) and there you find a lot of jewlery and souvenir stores nearby. Items are overpriced in my opinion and I rather spent my money in other things so, I did window shopping.
Ponte Vecchio is the only suviving bridge since 1346 til today, when it was rebuilt by Neri di Fiovarante after a flood, the oldest one in Europe made of stone and it has been the only one forgiven by german troops during the bombing on the second world war. The bridge is always crowed of tourist and there are lots of shops, jewelries, leather, handcraftship, etc where you can spend some money.
Es el único puente que sobrevive a día de hoy desde el año 1345, cuando fue reconstruido después de una crecida por Neri di Fioravante, el puente más antiguo de Europa construido totalmente en piedra y el único perdonado por los alemanes durante los bombardeos de la ciudad en la segunda guerra mundial. El puente está siempre lleno de turistas sobre todo en las joyerias, tiendas de pieles y de orfebrería.
I had a fascination and obsession with how many bridges and rivers I could cross, so I definitely have to add in get your tooties moving and stroll across the Arno while you are in Fireze. The Ponte Vecchio is fascinating, finding little shops, performers and painters. Feels like going back in time. And to think all that little bridge has survived!
The Ponte Vecchio - 'Old Bridge' - is one of the most famous landmarks of Florence and it is one of the city's few sights that is free to visit.
There has been a bridge spanning the river Arno close to this spot since Roman times. The current stone bridge was built in 1345, bearing 43 shops on its three arches, and replaced an eleventh-century wooden structure. Over the top of the medieval shops runs the Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano), built in 1565 as a private passageway for the Grand Dukes, linking the Palazzo della Signoria and the Uffizi with the Pitti Palace.
Until the end of the sixteenth century there were all kinds of shops on the bridge, but this proved too smelly and untidy for Florence's rulers: it was ordered that only jewellers and goldsmiths should be allowed to do business here. Nowadays, the shops on the bridge still glint with gold and jewels, and this traditional Florentine trade is commemorated on the centre of the bridge by a bust of Benvenuto Cellini, among the most famous of the town's goldsmiths. In the great floods of 1966 many valuables were washed away down the river from these shops.
The bridge has endured numerous fires and floods over the centuries, but perhaps came closest to destruction in 1944, during the Second World War. As the Germans retreated before the Allies, they blew up all Florence's bridges apart from the Ponte Vecchio, instead blocking its ends with rubble from demolished buildings.
Ponte Vecchio, the oldest of Florence's six bridges, is one of the city's best known images. Probably going back to Roman times with its stone pillars and wooden planks; it was built in stone but then newly destroyed by a flood in 1333. It was built again twelve years later, perhaps by Neri da Fioravante (or Taddeo Gaddi, according to Giorgio Vasari).
The five arches became three and the main part was widened. The shops, housed under the porticos, first belonged to the Commune which then rented them out. But later on, towards the 15th century, they were sold to private owners and began to change through subsequent additions, raised parts and external terraces, extending towards the river and altering the original architecture in an anarchical, suggestive way.
I wasn't that bothered about seeing this as i thought it would be an enclosed cramped bridge with millions of stalls but we actually ended up on it by accident - one minute i thought we were walking along another street and the next we realised as we got to the middle that we were on the bridge! its exactly like an open air street lined with gold shops and has a lovely atmosphere.
Apparently this is one of the most expensive places to buy gold but is worth going to to see it.
The Ponte Vecchio or 'Old Bridge' is a Medieval bridge that spans the Arno River. It is unique in that there are still shops built along it, as was once common. At one point in time, butchers occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. It is thought that there has been a bridge of some sort at this spot going back to the Roman times when the Via cassia crossed here. (I bet the bridge looked different then.)
The bridge always seemed to be full of people taking pictures, browsing the various shops or just passing from one side to the other. We aren't really big shoppers, so we did our bridge watching from either side of the Arno. It is beautifully lit at night and a perfect place to stop and look back at the city.