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Ponte Vecchio – a small town built on a bridge – would this work in the U.S.?

The amazing history of Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio (which means “old bridge” in Italian) in Florence was built in the time of the Romans and is a tourist attraction and local hotspot over the Arno River, featuring shops, restaurants and residences. The bridge experienced damage during World War II but it is rumored that Hitler directly ordered that the bridge incur no damages.

Initially, Ponte Vecchio was originally lined with butchers and food vendors and now features art dealers, jewellers and tourist shops. The idea of bankruptcy was literally born on this bridge – when a merchant could not pay his debts, the table where he sold his wares (the banco) was broken (rotto) by soldiers, a practice which was called “bancorotto,” wherein the merchant no longer had a table and could no longer sell anything.

In more modern times, a tradition of “love padlocks” has been brought in from Russia and Asia, wherein padlocks are locked onto a gate, fence or bridge by sweethearts who throw the key into the river to symbolize their everlasting love. A padlock store began the tradition and now, thousands of locks are locked on to rails on the bridge, most notably around the statue of Benvenuto Cellini.

Could this work in America?

Could a Ponte Vecchio work in America? With the rough infrastructure of the U.S. and bridge collapses (like the historic Minnesota bridge collapse in 2007), many would argue it could not work, but what about the bridges built in the Roman tradition that are still functional, or what about a new, state of the art bridge? Could a tourist attraction come to some of the Gulf states that are seeking to attract tourism after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina?

The concept would be amazing if it somehow translated into a building device implemented in land locked areas that are rich with waterways (but count California out, it would need to be in an area less earthquake prone).

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Take a look at the photos below and tell us in the comments where an American version of the Ponte Vecchio should be built.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Bob LeDrew

    December 10, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Ponte vecchio is amazing. As are the small villages of Italy, which seem to exist just fine without fast food and Wal-Mart.

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