Florence / Attractions / Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence

The famous (secret) old bridge over the Arno river in Firenze Italy

Ponte Vecchio

The most famous and oldest bridge in Florence Italy is the Ponte Vecchio, literally 'the old bridge' and contains a secret corridor between Palazzo Vecchio and Pitti in addition to numerous jewelers and shops.

Ponte Vecchio, the famous bridge over the Arno river

The most striking and oldest bridge in Florence Italy still in existence is the Ponte Vecchio, literally: the old bridge. The Ponte Vecchio was designed by a student of Giotto, Taddeo Gaddi and was finished in 1345. The Ponte Vecchio di Firenze is known for the many shops on and around the bridge, which used to be the domain of blacksmiths, tanners and butchers. They used the Arno river in Florence as a landfill. However, Duke Fernandino made sure they left because they caused too much noise and stench. They were replaced by jewelers and goldsmiths, who could also pay a higher rent.

Ponte VecchioThe Ponte Vecchio Firenze over the Arno river
Old Bridge FlorenceThe statue of Benvenuto Cellini

History of the famous Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio is said to have existed since Roman times. The bridge was then only made of wood and after the flooding of the bridge in 1333, the Ponte Vecchio Firenze was rebuilt in stone in 1345. The bridge consists of three arches, of which the middle one is the largest at thirty meters in length. In the center of the bridge is a bust of Benvenuto Cellini, an Italian artist who started his career as a goldsmith on Ponte Vecchio. The bridge was not destroyed by the Germans in World War II, but a torrent in 1966 was less favorable to the bridge, causing a lot of gold capital to disappear in the Arno.

Love sealed

A fence has been placed around the statue of Benvenuto Cellini, where couples in love hang small locks, with or without the initials of the couple. The key to the padlock was then thrown into the Arno. This tradition should seal the love of the couple and continue to eternity.

Ponte VecchioThe Ponte Vecchio, or famous old bridge in Florence Italy
Bridge FlorenceA bridge full of jewelry shops

The secret passage across the Ponte Vecchio

People who have read Dan Brown's Inferno have heard of the Corridoio Vasariano, Vasari's secret corridor. This elevated corridor crosses the shops of the Ponte Vecchio and connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace. Vasari designed this secret corridor on behalf of Cosimo I so that he and his family could move between his two palaces without being seen by the people. The Corridoio Vasariano is almost a kilometer in distance. At first there were four towers on the Ponte Vecchio Firenze. Three of the four were demolished during the construction of the Corridoio Vasariano. The fourth tower, that of the Mannelli family, was saved; the Vasari corridor had to be built around this by means of support beams. Unfortunately, the Corridoio Vasariana is under restoration, which means that the secret corridor is presumably not open until 2022 with guided tours.

Activities on the Arno River

Where is the old bridge in Florence?

famous bridge in florence italy
Our readers say
4.8 (95.83%) 8 reviews
February 6, 2024 : "We had a fantastic holiday in Florence city and Tuscany because of the interesting tips for sightseeing, tours and activities in Florence Italy."