The Ponte Vecchio is one of the most famous landmarks in Florence, Italy. It is located in the heart of the city and spans the Arno River. The structure was originally named the “Bishop’s Bridge” and was built by the Florentine Republic between 1345 and 1362. The Ponte Vecchio is actually three bridges joined together. The central portion of the bridge is called Ponte Alla Carraia and it is here where the name Ponte Vecchio comes from. The two side portions are known as Ponte di Borgo and Ponte di Sotto. The Ponte Vecchio has always been the main shopping street in Florence. In fact, it is often said that if you can find a bargain on the Ponte Vecchio, you have found a bargain anywhere in Europe!
Today, the Ponte Vecchio is a popular tourist attraction and one of the most photographed spots in Florence. The famous “Florentine Window” is located just above the shops on the bridge. The window displays change twice a year and offer a glimpse into the amazing world of fashion and design that existed in Florence during the Renaissance era. There is also a small museum located under the Ponte Vecchio which contains many interesting exhibits.
One of my favorite things to do while in Florence is simply to walk or take a bus across the Ponte Vecchio and explore the numerous shops that line the entire length of the bridge. It’s an amazing experience to see everything from inexpensive costume jewelry, to high-end leather goods, to the most exquisite antique furnishings. I especially love window shopping on the Ponte Vecchio because you are almost certain to find something you will be able to buy back home.