History of Ponte Vecchio in 60 Seconds

Livia Hengel

The medieval Ponte Vecchio, or “Old Bridge,” is one of the most charming and iconic sites in Florence. It was built in 1345 as the first bridge over the Arno River to be used as a system of defense. Today, Ponte Vecchio is known for its teeming shops, including many jewelers, art sellers and antique boutiques.

The Ponte Vecchio bridge was built in its current form in the mid 14th century after the previous structure was swept away by a flood in 1333. The design has been attributed to medieval Italian painter and architect Taddeo Gaddi, though there is some dissent among historians, as some of the bridge’s harmonious elements suggest the Dominican friars might have been involved. Though the bridge served as a defense mechanism, Ponte Vecchio was also designed to be a beautiful and honorable structure in the city.

The local government began renting shop space on the bridge in the 13th century, the first of which primarily sold foodstuffs, such as meat and fish. However, the stench became overwhelming, and the shops were converted to mostly goldsmiths and jewelers in the late 16th century. The bronze bust of Florentine artist and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini is still featured on a fountain in the middle of the bridge. The tradesmen gradually built up their properties over the centuries and created the jumbled bridge that stands today—a visual departure from the original order.

During his tenure as Duke of Florence, Cosimo I de’ Medici commissioned Italian artist and architect Giorgio Vasari to build the Vasari Corridor that runs above the bridge. This enclosed passageway connects Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery with the Pitti Palace, his residence across the river. Unlike other bridges in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed during World War II, allegedly due to an express order by Hitler to preserve it, though it was severely damaged by the Great Flood of Florence in 1966. It has since been restored to its former glory and continues to attract tourists and locals alike to stroll upon it and admire views of the Arno River below.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article