Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), Florence

Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), Florence (must see)

Ponte Vecchio (or The Old Bridge) in Florence appeared in documents for the first time in 996. Of all the six local bridges crossing the river Arno, it was the only one spared by the retreating Germans in 1944. Today, this Medieval stone arch bridge stands testament to what a monarch can accomplish in terms of lasting legacy.

Still lined with shops, as was commonplace in the Middle Ages, this bridge is presently occupied by jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers, whereas initially, its tenants were all butchers who habitually dumped rotten animal carcasses straight into the river below. That was the case until the 16th century when Grand Duke Fernandino I de' Medici demanded that all the butcher shops were replaced by goldsmiths – thus not only did he rid the bridge of its rotting stench, but also turned it into the golden-most spot in Italy.

If looking at Ponte Vecchio from a distance, one can notice there an upper level, which is in fact a kilometer-long tunnel linking the Palazzo Pitti with Palazzo Vecchio and using which, back in the day, Duke Fernandino could walk freely between the two palaces whenever he felt insecure in public. Although the passageway is now closed since 2016 for safety reasons, the Uffizi Gallery has announced plans to re-open it by 2021.

One of the legends surrounding the bridge is it that the economic term “bankruptcy” originated right here when a money-changer who couldn't pay his debts, in punishment for his insolvency had his trading table physically broken by soldiers, so he could no longer sell anything. The table was called "banco", and thus the term "bancorotto" came into being.

Today, the Ponte Vecchio is a pleasant place to walk in the evening, if not packed end to end with thousands of tourists traversing the river over its cobblestones.

Why You Should Visit:
The sunset light here makes it a special spot to cross or watch from afar. The morning light on the river is just as gorgeous a sight to behold and, if you come here early in the day, you may stand a pretty good chance of having this “old bridge” all to yourself!

Tip:
If you do cross the bridge, be careful with your surroundings to avoid getting pickpocketed.

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Florence, Italy within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) on Map

Sight Name: Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)
Sight Location: Florence, Italy
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) containing this sight: City Orientation Walking Tour   Arno South Bank Walking Tour  

Walking Tours in Florence, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

Creating your own self-guided walk in Florence is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Novella & Indipendenza Walking Tour

Novella & Indipendenza Walking Tour

Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". This city has to offer a lot of wonderful places to admire. Take this tour to explore Indipendenza and Santa Maria Novella quarters, visit beautiful Dominican basilica of Santa Maria Novella, as well as Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Accademia di Belle Arti, Cappella dei Principi and...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Novella Walking Tour

Novella Walking Tour

Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". This city has to offer a lot of wonderful places to admire. Take this tour to walk along the Arno embankment and explore the south-eastern part of the Santa Maria Novella quarter.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km
Dante's Florence Walking Tour

Dante's Florence Walking Tour

Dante Alighieri is considered one of the greatest poets of all times. He was born in Florence and spent most of his life there until he was exiled. Many of the structures in the city were built according to his greatest epic poem Divina Commedia. This tour will take you on a trip through Dante's life and work in Florence.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
City Orientation Walking Tour

City Orientation Walking Tour

The city of Florence was founded by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for veteran soldiers and, as such, was built in the style of an army camp with the main streets intersecting at the present Piazza della Repubblica. The original name Fluentia was due to the fact that the city was built between two rivers. Later, the name was changed to Florentia which means “flowering” or...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
Duomo Souvenir Shopping

Duomo Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Florence without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Florence, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour

Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour

Michelangelo spent over 20 years of his life in Florence during which he created some of the most beautiful masterpieces this city had ever seen. The most famous of them, the David, is also located in Florence along with a few copies. Take this tour to discover the Florence side of Michelangelo's artistic mastership.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km

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