Italy is a treasure trove of beautiful things. From its world-famous art to its storied cities and architectural sights. And among the most beautiful sights are its bridges.
At once functional and beautiful, these bridges have spanned centuries of history. Bringing people together and capturing the imagination of all who see them. Here we discover the Top 5 Beautiful bridges you must see in Italy, and look at some of the fascinating stories behind them.
5 Beautiful Bridges in Italy you must see
1. Rialto Bridge, Venice
Venice’s iconic landmark the Ponte di Rialto is the oldest of the bridges that cross the Canal Grande. This elegant arch bridge perfectly complements the range of stunning buildings that line the Venetian canali. There has been a bridge on this spot since the 13th century, the first built entirely with wood. Its importance grew together with the Rialto market, and finally at the end of the 16th century a competition was held to rebuild it using stone.
Among the most beautiful bridges to see in Italy, today the Rialto bridge is a tourist mecca, with its fabulous views, its stone steps and little souvenir shops. With its elegant decorations it’s a work of art in itself, one that no visitor will easily forget.
The best way to appreciate the Canal Grande as it winds through the heart of Venice is from a waterbus (vaporetto) or a traditional gondola. The ‘city of water’ reveals all its unique charm with the edifices mirrored in the canal.
2. Ponte Sant’Angelo, Rome
The imposing fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo is linked to the other bank of the river Tiber by a splendid bridge flanked with statues. The Ponte Sant’Angelo has changed names a number of times throughout the centuries, since the 2nd century when Emperor Hadrian had it built to connect his mausoleum to the left bank. During the Middle Ages, this same bridge would be crossed by pilgrims that were visiting the religious sites.
The series of statues were added in the 16th century. The ten angels on the balustrade are symbols of the passion of Christ – the work of the assistants of the famous Bernini. The most ancient statues are St. Paolo and St. Peter, both located on the side furthest from the castle.
Although its hard to imagine today, this beautiful bridge has a dark side. For years it was used to perform capital punishment and to display the bodies of the condemned as a gruesome warning. Castel Sant’Angelo is known as a residence for the Popes, but there was a time when it was in fact a prison.
=> Did you know? The Romans were masters at building bridges and aqueducts. And many of these ancient structures are still standing today.
3. Ponte Vecchio, Florence
One of the landmarks of Florence, the Ponte Vecchio or “Old Bridge” spans the river Arno right in the heart of the historic city centre. Its jumbled silhouette is one of Florence’s most enduring sights, loved by tourists that browse the ancient goldsmiths’ botteghe in search of the perfect memento of Florence.
While there’s been a bridge here since Roman times, the structure you see today was first built in 1345. Originally, it used to accomodate grocers and butchers who would throw their waste directly into the river producing all manner of unpleasant odours. In 1565, the Vasari corridor was built over the Ponte Vecchio to connect the Palazzo Vecchio to the residence of the Medici Palazzo Pitti. In order to make the air more pleasant for the aristocracy passing above, Grand Duke Ferdinand I evicted the merchants in 1595 and substituted them with goldsmiths and silversmiths.
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For a perfect photo opportunity, stand on the Ponte Santa Trinita at sunset, and you’ll have the perfect frame with the Ponte Vecchio drenched in gold and the hills on the background
4. Ponte della Maddalena – or Devil’s Bridge, Lucca province
Shrouded in myth and folklore, the so-called “devil’s bridges” are curious constructions that seem to defy the laws of gravity. They’ve been a constant source of wonder since medieval times, when people often said that their precarious designs could only have been the devil’s work.
Italy has many of these devil’s bridges, and one is located in Tuscany, central Italy. The Ponte della Maddalena, whose structure is aptly known as a “humpback bridge”, is definitely an unusual sight, and a stunning piece of Medieval architecture to boot. Where do you find it? The Ponte della Maddalena is on the way to the verdant Garfagnana in northern Tuscany, near Borgo a Mozzano (20 kms from the town of Lucca).
5. Ponte di Castelvecchio – or Scaligero Bridge, Verona
Verona, the town in northern Italy famous as the setting of Romeo and Juliet, is divided by the river Adige. And its bridges are one of the reasons many people fall in love with it.
The Scaligero bridge is undoubtedly one of Italy’s most famous bridges. A piece of ingenious military architecture, it was built in the 14th century to create a way of escaping the town in case of attack. It’s a magnificent fortified structure, with three arches and merlons, which perfectly integrates the defensive system of the great Medieval manor, the Castelvecchio – which is the most important military construction of the Scaligeri dynasty that ruled the city during the Middle Ages.
The bridge was destroyed during WW2. The structure was rebuilt after the war, and the current structure is faithful to its original shape. The Ponte Pietra, another of Verona’s historic bridge, and the oldest in Verona, suffered a similar fate and was itself rebuilt.
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