It seems the Ponte Vecchio in Florence is always in the news for one reason or another! Are you familiar with the famous landmark? Have you walked across one of the original Florentine bridges that connect the Oltrarno to the city center?
At the foot of the bridge, it is said Dante waited each day for Beatrice to pass by, hoping to see the face of the woman he loved. Also once upon a time, during medieval times, it was home to Florentine butchers. It was the perfect place to house the “macellai” whose task was to slice and dice up pigs and cows. When the butchers were ready to dispose of the bones and carcasses, they simply dumped them into the river below. Such an easy clean-up solution.
But Cosimo, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the husband of Eleonora de Medici (the woman with the fabulous gown, painted often by the artist Bronzino) decided to construct a private gallery over the bridge. He hired Giorgio Vasari as the architect and now it is known as the Vasari corridor. But, Cosimo it seems had a sensitive nose and grew tired of the stench of the butchers. He decided to boot the butchers from the bridge and replace them with goldsmiths and jewelers. In his mind an improvement—as well as a less odiferous group of tradesmen.
During World War II, this bridge was the only one not bombed by Germans, rumored to be special order from Hitler itself. During the 1960’s it was threatened once again by the floodwaters that rose up threatening to explode the pilings. The storm had no mercy and was ready to topple the medieval bridge that even the Nazis had been too respectful to destroy. But when the banks gave way dumping its contents into the city instead the bridge remained standing.
Last December the bridge was in the news again. It was a part of the city’s light show display. The bridge was adorned with beautiful images of art.
But, this week the Ponte Vecchio was in the news once again. It seems very nearby due to an underground water main break along the Arno River a 200-yard-long sinkhole opened up burying dozens of parked cars. Mayor Dario Nardella stressed that the underground flooding was the result of a gash in a two-foot diameter pipe, one of the major water conduits in the neighborhood, and not a leak in the banks of the Arno.
So no need to panic. The bridge didn’t take a dive into the brink. Thank goodness! Apparently, the bridge will live on to see another day!