Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence. during the Roman times it existed another bridge before this one. Its current appearance dates back to 1345 when it was built to replace a bridge which was destroyed by a flood. Houses were built on the bridge, a common practice in large European cities during the Middle Ages.
The houses on the bridge were initially used as workshops and some shopkeepers such as butchers, tanners and greengrocer had their business there . In 1593 duke Ferdinand I decided to replace them with goldsmiths because the shops produced too much garbage and caused a foul stench. So goldsmiths and artisans, were considered best suited to the beauty of the place. Since then gold has become the protagonist of Ponte Vecchio,
Today the houses are used as shops selling a wide assortment of jewelry, ranging from affordable modern jewels to pricey antiques.
Family Mannelli was the only one who opposed the passage of the corridor through their property, as was done previously for other buildings, forcing Vasari to design this section with cantilevered shelves around the tower.
In 1900, to honour and remember the fourth century of the birth of the great Florentine sculptor and master goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, the goldsmiths of the bridge commissioned the most renowned Florentine sculptor of the time, Raffaello Romanelli, to create a bronze bust of Cellini to stand at the top of the fountain in the middle of the Eastern side of the bridge, where it stands to this day.
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picture courtesy aviewoncities.com – hoteldegliorafi.it – visitare-firenze.it – it.wikipedia.org – viaggi.it