The Ponte Vecchio has become one of the most famous landmarks in Florence.
The Ponte Vecchio is an iconic symbol of Florence. The bridge is hard to miss, as there is no other like it in Florence. With a rich history, it’s no wonder that the bridge’s name translates to “Old Bridge”.
History of the Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence and Europe’s oldest stone bridge. Old Bridge used to be the only bridge that connected the banks of the Arno River until 1218. The bridge was reconstructed a few times, but the final version that we see today was completed in the mis 1300s. It was constructed as a defence system, but over the years has evolved to include shops, windows, and archways.
Fast forward to the mid-1900s during World War II. The fleeing German Army destroyed all bridges in Florence except for the Ponte Vecchio. Rather than destroying the bridge, the German army demolished the buildings on both ends of the bridge to block access. Somehow, the bridge withstood a major flood shortly after that and still stands strong today.
What to do at the Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio isn’t just a bridge, there are lots of shops to visit as well. The bridge used to include many different shops from butchers to tanners, which caused a bit of a smell. In the late 1500s, it was declared that only jewellers and goldsmiths could have shops on the bridge.
As you stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, you will be able to shop for jewellery, art, and souvenirs. There are just under fifty shops on the bridge!
If you are crossing the Ponte Vecchio in the evening, consider grabbing a seat on one of the benches. You will be able to watch the water glitter below as the sun begins to set over the city.
More nearby attractions
Before or after visiting the Ponte Vecchio, there are several unforgettable attractions to see around the city.
You can find the famous Uffizi Gallery sitting along the riverbank. Here, you’ll see artwork created by da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and many more famous artists. The Museo Galileo is just a short walk along the river from the Uffizi Gallery. Whether you are into science or not, this museum is for everybody. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of science, with items dating back to the 13th century.
If you continue South of the bridge, you will be able to find the Palazzo Pitti. Inside the palace is the spectacular Palatine Gallery. This gallery is a great place to view stunning paintings from floor to ceiling.
If you continue north of the bridge, you’ll come across lots of attractions and landmarks. From statues and fountains to cathedrals and museums, there are tons of things to see.
If you would like to visit the Ponte Vecchio on a tour, this Florence Walking Tour is a wonderful option. The 1.5-hour walking tour takes you across the bridge and past other attractions including the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo!