Il Ponte Vecchio
(The Old Bridge)
A Very Famous Bridge In Florence
Even before the construction of the present Ponte Vecchio, there has always been a bridge at this part of the river. It is known that a bridge existed here as far back as ancient Roman times.
There is some uncertainty about who actually designed the current stone bridge. Some people believe that it was the artist Taddeo Gaddi and others say that it was the architect Neri Fioravanti.
The interesting feature of Il Ponte Vecchio is that buildings have been constructed on the bridge. These buildings are shops and houses.
Originally, London Bridge was very similar to the Ponte Vecchio because it also had shops and buildings on top of it. Old London Bridge can be compared to Il Ponte Vecchio in a famous engraving below by Claes Van Visscher.
The de' Medici Family were the ruling family in Tuscany between the 14th and 18th centuries.
In fact, they were one of the richest and most powerful families in Europe.
In 1565, the Grand Duke Cosimo I, of the de' Medici Family, ordered that a special corridor be built on top of the already-existing buildings on the bridge: rather like an upper storey running along it.
The corridor was designed by architect Giorgio Vasari and was intended to be used as a covered pathway running conveniently between two important buildings standing on each side of the river. The two important buildings were Il Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall of Florence) and Il Palazzo Pitti (the residence of Cosimo I). Both houses can be seen in the pictures below.