Italian Art, History and Culture

The Ponte Vecchio

The Old Bridge of Florence

Ponte Vecchio Florence

The Ponte Vecchio
The Old Bridge of Florence

A5 PDF version 237 pages, 118 photos and maps
ISBN 0-9541633-8-9

Price: €10.95

I have read and agree to the eBook Terms & Conditions

Your eBook will normally be emailed to you by WeTransfer within one working day of purchase.

To get the Kindle version from Amazon click here

The name Ponte Vecchio means ‘Old Bridge’ in Italian, and this world-famous Florentine landmark is certainly old, but it is by no means the first bridge to stand on this site, nor even the first regular means of crossing the river Arno here. The story of a river crossing on this site stretches all the way back into prehistory, so whilst the title of the book might suggest it is about just one bridge, it is actually about a whole series of bridges that were built on, or close to, the site occupied by the Ponte Vecchio today, in the heart of the beautiful city of Florence. These were bridges sometimes destroyed by the hand of man, and sometimes by apocalyptic natural forces. This book is the story of those bridges, and the colourful daily life of the city, as lived around, and even on them - an everyday story of murder, flood and war.

Yet the story of those bridges is the story of Florence, and far more than that: without a way of crossing the Arno here, the city of Florence would never have been founded. And without a Florence, there would have been no ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’, no city where Leonardo and Michelangelo learned their trade, and without them, no Mona Lisa, no Sistine Chapel ceiling, and no marble David. Some of the greatest works of art in Western civilization would never have come to be, were it not for the need to build a river crossing at the head of a marshy valley in Tuscany, some 3,000 years ago.

Chris Dobson’s lively and compelling narrative charts those 3,000 years of history, and includes a star cast of famous characters: Julius Caesar; the poet Dante; the ‘Godfathers of the Renaissance’, the Medici; and even Andrea Bocelli, all make appearances, along with less welcome contributions from Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. From Ancient Rome to the 1960’s, some of the most dramatic moments in the history of Florence have played out right here, where an old bridge spans the river Arno. The book concludes by bringing the reader right up to the present day, and even takes a look into the future. It is lavishly illustrated throughout.

The Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, who reigned when Florence was destroyed in 542AD
The Castevecchio Bridge, Verona shows how the first Ponte Vecchio was originally fortified with battlemanets
The Medieval towers of San Gimignano show how the Ponte Vecchio of Florence was once defended by similar huge towers
The Medieval bridges in Florence, seen from the Pescaia di Santa Rosa
A painting of Saint Anthony Abbot and his faithful pigs. In fact, the Ponte Vecchio was not originally a place just for butchers
A jewelry shop on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence
Photos from the book, credits from left to right/top to bottom: Petar Milošević (CC-BY-SA 4.0); Jakub Halun (CC-BY-SA 3.0); © Chris Dobson; yeowatzup (CC-BY-SA 2.0); Pinacoteca Civica Bruno Molajoli, Fabriano; © Chris Dobson.
The Ponte Vecchio Florence
The Ponte Vecchio, Florence. Photo © Chris Dobson.
© Chris Dobson 2021. All rights reserved | P.IVA 03799630045