Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence, its origin dates back to Roman times but it was repeatedly damaged by flooding of the Arno river, and was rebuilt several times, the bridge crosses the river at the point of least width and is today one symbol of the city of Florence. In medieval times, the bridge was made of wood, then at the end of the twelfth century was built a stone bridge with five arches, which was completely destroyed by the terrible floods of 1333.
After the flood, in 1345 was built a new bridge, probably designed by Taddeo Gaddi or Neri Fioravanti, whose structure was innovative for its time, it had three passes to arch, then on top had a double row of shops.
In 1565 the architect Giorgio Vasari built – on top of the shops who look to the east – the Vasari Corridor – about one kilometer long – to connect Palazzo Vecchio with the private residence of the Medici, Palazzo Pitti. In the seventeenth century were added the back room supported by brackets (“sporti”), giving the bridge the current appearance. The shops were initially occupied by fishmongers, butchers and tanners, then, in 1593, by order of Ferdinando I – who could not stand bad smells under the windows of the Vasari Corridor, where every day he was to pass – were occupied only by goldsmiths and jewelers.
Even today the bridge has the same type of shops, they overlook the central passage, each with a single window closed by thick wooden doors, in the center of the bridge are two panoramic terraces.
The three panoramic windows at the center of the Vasari Corridor that can be seen from the west side of the bridge were opened in 1939 on the occasion of Hitler’s visit to Florence, the Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence that was not bombed by the Germans in 1944 during the Second World War.