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Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio, meaning Old Bridge, is the oldest bridge across the Arno River. The bridge that stands today dates back to 1345, and was built by Taddeo Gaddi to replace an older bridge. The shops that you will see lining the bridge today have been known to exist since the 12th century, with goldsmiths, silversmiths, and other traders dealing their wares as they did centuries ago.

The bridge is flanked by a sculpture of one of the more well-known Florentine goldsmiths, Benvenuto Cellini. The said goldsmith was the person who created the famous sculpture of Perseus. The statue can be found at the side of the bridge, at the piazza that overlooks the River Arno.

The Ponte Vecchio is perhaps one of the luckiest bridges in the world, if there ever was one. In 1944, even the Nazis couldn't bring themselves to destroy such as historical structure, even with orders to blow up every single bridge in Florence, to keep the Allied Forces from advancing. To preserve the history of the bridge, they decided to instead blow off the ancient buildings that surrounded the bridge, blocking off the use of the bridge in the process.

After that crisis, a flood in the Arno in 1966 spared the bridge, but not the shops. Thankfully, a night watchman spotted the flood early enough, and was able to alert the goldsmiths of the impending doom. The valuable items of the sellers were saved and not washed away, and the bridge luckily remained intact.

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