Over the Ponte Vecchio
(Pictures 1 and 2), the only original bridge that
survived WWII, is the Oltrarno quarter, a haven of artisan workshops, with its centre being Borgo San Jacopo, lined with restaurants, shops and two
towers that date back to the 12th century: Torre dei Marsili and Torre de’Belfredelli
There are records of the existence of a bridge over the Arno
at the end of the 10th century. The terrible floods of the 12th, 14th
and 20th century were very damaging: the first two destroyed the
bridge itself and the last one, many of the town´s fine pieces and threatened
the jewellers’ economic resources.
In the 1500s Ferdinand I
de’Medici’s instructed the jewellers to come to the bridge to take the
place of the butchers who would have to leave as they had turned it into a horrible smelling bridge! The jewellers’ apprenticeship has since then been
handed down through the generations and to this day smart jewellers shops line the bridge.
The bridge was erected in the 14th century. The Corridoio Vasariano
(Picture 3) linking the Palazzo Vecchio
, the Uffizzi Gallery
and Palazzo Pitti
was originally conceived and constructed with little windows but Mussolini
had bigger ones added for Hitler so that on his visit to Florence he could enjoy a better view of the river.
The Torre dei Mannelli
is located at the south extreme end of the Ponte Vecchio.