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Ponte Vecchio
If you are visiting Florence, of course you will enjoy a view of the River Arno, so go straight on to Ponte Vecchio on the River.
The Arno River runs approximately 240 kilometers long through various provinces of Tuscany, being the largest river in the region. In the past, the city of Florence was regularly flooded by the water from this river even as recent as the famous flood of 1966. Since then new dams have been built which have greatly alleviated the risk of floods.
The original old bridge “Ponte Vecchio”, which connects the right and left river banks of Florence, dates back to the Roman era and was originally done in wood built on stone piers. The medieval bridge we see today was however, done after a great flood in 1333 which destroyed the original. Rebuilt over a span of over 200 years, much of it is accredited to the Florentine architect Taddeo Gaddi.
Ponte Vecchio consists of three segmental arches with the main arch having spanning at 30 meters and the two side arches spanning at 27 meters each.
Today the bridge is characterized also by the many shops, primarily jewellery shops, that line it. This is not new though for it has been since medieval times that blacksmiths, butchers, and tanners set up shop here, catering mostly to the many soldiers who crossed it.
Commerce on the bridge took a change when the Medici family moved into the area in the latter half of the 1300’s not long after the devastating black plague of 1348, which radically decreased the population. For the next century, things began to change drastically due to the wealth and influence of the Medici’s and by the late 1500’s, the butcher shops, which led to an acceptable polluting of the river, where forced out and instead replaced by new shops consisting of primarily goldsmiths and artists. The shops and prestige of Ponte Vecchio increased continuously and around the same time, in 1565, Cosimo I de Medici had the monumental “ Vasari Corridor” built by the great Florentine architect Giorgio Vasari. The corridor runs one kilometre in length above the Arno River and connects Palazzo Pitti to Palazzo Vecchio. The private and exclusive corridor, which contains an exquisite collection of art, allowed members of the Medici family to move freely between their private residence in Pitti Palace to Palazzo Vecchio.
 
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