Italy Today

The stories behind Italian bridges

Venice, Florence and Rome host some of the best

The stories behind Italian bridges

Claudia Astarita

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Bridges are everywhere in the world, but if you go to Italy, you will definitely bump into some of the most romantic. The Australian magazine Italianicious has recently published an extremely interesting article recalling the stories of some of Italian famous bridges.

Venice is introduced as "the best place in Italy for bridge lovers" as there are about 800 over the canals that criss-cross the city. "The oldest and most famous, the 16th century Rialto Bridge, is an instantly recognisable icon of Venice. Its unique, arched porticos rise steeply above the Grand Canal. Until the 19th century it was the only bridge that crossed the Grand Canal". The Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) crossing the Rio di Palazzo is also a very famous bridge, known as a precious link between the old prison and the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. "The bridge was given its name in the 19th century by the English Romantic poet, Lord Byron, who said it referred to the sighs of prisoners taking their last look at Venice."

Florence also has its iconic bridge, which is Ponte Vecchio, the Old Bridge. It is a 14th century stone bridge across the River Arno with multi-level stores lining on its sides, although originally only goldsmiths and jewellers were allowed to do business there.

Finally, "Rome's most famous bridge is Ponte Sant'Angelo, which crosses the Tiber at Castel Sant'Angelo near the Vatican. This impressive, marble-faced bridge dates back to the second century. Now a pedestrian footbridge and adorned with large 17th century sculptures of angels, the Ponte Sant'Angelo is also especially striking after dark when both the bridge and the castle are illuminated."

Other Italian cities also host beautiful bridges, such as the Tiberius Bridge in Rimini, on the Adriatic coast, or the Ponte Sanguinario (Bridge of Blood) in Spoleto, where historians say the blood of Christians who were persecuted in the town's amphitheatre used to be easy to spot.

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