Not only is it a living testament to the city of Florence itself, but it also remains one of the highlights. Simply put, if you have missed the Ponte Vecchio, then you have missed the heart of Florence as a city.
So the good thing is that it's hard to miss, at its location right in the city center.
A view of the Ponte Vecchio from behind — Photo courtesy of Alexa Schnee
Literally meaning “Old Bridge” in Italian, Ponte Vecchio was first mentioned in Roman times for its spot along the narrowest part of the Arno River. Originally built of stone, it was washed away by the river several times until its current form took shape.
It also housed the main meat district of the city. And before the bridge became famous for housing gold and silver, it was the spot where Medieval Florentines could choose the perfect cut for their steak Fiorentina.
One of the most fascinating tidbits about the Ponte Vecchio was its secret corridor that led from the Palazzo Vecchio over its top to the newly purchased Pitti Palace by Cosimo I de' Medici. Afraid that he might experience an assassination attempt by traveling through Florence's streets, the hidden corridor allowed him to move between the main center of government to his home without worry.
It was also the only bridge that remained untouched by bombings during World War II. Many guides and locals insist that this was because of an order from Hitler himself; many claim it was because it was his mother's favorite bridge.
However, probably more realistically, it was because the German army required a way to transport items from one side of the Arno to the other.
Now you can stroll romantically along the Ponte Vecchio and catch some of the city's most stunning views. You'll want to make sure that you watch for pickpockets and sellers looking to trick you into some cheap novelty items. But it's hard to find a more romantic spot in Italy.
Also, this area also features some of the finest jewelry you will find in Europe. So it's worth walking over the bridge if you're both a shopper and a tourist. Stretching out over the entire length, gold and silver items wink at you through the display glass.
It's no wonder that the Ponte Vecchio touts itself as the most expensive bridge in the entire world!