Exploring The Ponte Vecchio in Florence

While Florence, as a whole, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Italy to visit, certain parts of it deserve a great deal of attention more than others.

One such part of the city is the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, which spans the Arno River through the centre of Florence.

The Famous Bridge

Ordinarily, you might think that a bridge is something that would only be interesting to architecture enthusiasts. However, the Ponte Vecchio is famous for much more than being merely a bridge, with a rich history and story behind it stretching back many years.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Tuscany, Italy by Clayton Tang

It is believed that the main bridge structure dates back to the Roman Empire, and it is the oldest, and most famous, of the six bridges that today cross the Arno River. Unfortunately, the original bridge was destroyed by flooding of the river in the 14th Century, before being rebuilt some years later.

Hit the Shops

Today, the Ponte Vecchio is most famous for essentially being a shopping arcade. The premises that line the bridge have almost exclusively been shops. When the bridge was first built, it is thought that all of the tenants were butchers selling the finest meats from across Italy. In later years, fishmongers and greengrocers also developed a presence here.

Ponte Vecchio Jewelry Shop, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Ponte Vecchio Jewelry Shop, Florence by Justin Ennis

However, the combination of these shops, especially during the Renaissance, could often lead to the whole area being overcome with a putrid, highly unpleasant smell. Ultimately, this is what led to the shops that are on the Ponte Vecchio standing there today.

Visitors to Florence are spoiled for choice when it comes to shopping opportunities, but the Ponte Vecchio arcade is the experience that trumps them all. Jewellery stores, art dealers, and souvenir sellers are among the most popular stores that can now be found across the bridge.

Ponte Vecchio and Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Ponte Vecchio and Florence, Tuscany, Italy by Steve

More to Ponte Vecchio

Away from the shops, the Ponte Vecchio is perhaps best appreciated from a distance. Situated between the Ponte Santa Trinita and Ponte alle Grazie, Ponte Vecchio is visible from both, with the potential for some terrific photographs.

Alternatively, there are many locations along the Arno from where tourists can take a boat ride up the river. This gives an unrivalled opportunity to capture the majesty of the bridge on your camera device.

Arno river and Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Arno river and Ponte Vecchio, Florence by Jan

The area continues to thrive at night, and although the shops are closed, both ends of the bridge are home to some of the best bars and restaurants in Florence, offering authentic local cuisine and refreshing drinks while you reminisce and wonder how you managed to spend a whole day on a bridge.

Make Ponte Vecchio the focal point of any visit to Florence; we promise you will not be disappointed.

This article is written by Transfercar (transfercar.com.au), a car hire cairns Australia service, providing travellers free transport for major cities in Australia.

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