Ponte Vecchio to undergo first major restoration

Florence is freshening up

By Region Central Italy Culture News

Every girl like to look her best and the city of Florence is no different. The city has various restoration projects on the go, and now it’s the turn of the Ponte Vecchio.

The city of Florence announced a comprehensive conservation and restoration plan aimed at addressing the historic landmark’s “ailments.” ItalyNews.Online has already brought you news of the Uffizi Galleries’ restoration project for the Boboli Gardens.

Now, for the first time in its nearly 700-year history, the Ponte Vecchio will undergo a major restoration. A floating platform with scaffolding was spied on the river Arno last week. A joint effort between the Belle Arti (Fine Arts) and Viabilità (Mobility) commissions of Palazzo Vecchio (the city hall of Florence), sees €2million being injected into the bridge.

Mayor Dario Nardella described it as a “major investment that will allow the enhancement of one of the world’s greatest icons.”

First full restoration of the bridge

The city confirms the bridge is structurally sound. However, after centuries of exposure to the elements and the river itself, it’s time to give the bridge a little TLC.

Nardella clarified the Ponte Vecchio has undergone “various transformations and numerous consolidations over the years, most recently after the dramatic flood of 1966, but never before has any project addressed the state of its stone and decorations.”

The restoration will take place in several stages. First, surveys and material samples, plus the installation of a bridge monitoring system, which will stay in place for a year.

Algae, known locally as black crusts (croste nere), lichen and vegetation removal follows. Next is the repair of deteriorated sections below the shops and filling cracks in the hard stone arches.

Finally, the revival of the bridge’s coat of arms and trim and a fresh coat of paint.

How old is the Ponte Vecchio?

Ponte Vecchio means ‘Old Bridge’. It was built in 1345 and is the oldest surviving bridge in Florence.

Designed by Taddeo Gaddi, the covered span originally housed blacksmiths, tanners and butchers until 1593. The stench of waste dumped into the Arno by the workers led Duke Ferdinando to give them their marching orders. Jewellers, goldsmiths and antique dealers replaced them.

The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge to survive Nazi bombing during World War II. This means all the other spans crossing the Arno within the city are no older than 76 years.

Florence Tour Guide Sarah Cater says, “There is a lot of restoration work underway in Florence at the moment. However, whilst there is evidence of scaffolding that needn’t mar your enjoyment of this beautiful city.

“Indeed, it means that the art and architecture will be here for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.”

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