Who could come to Florence without visiting Ponte Vecchio one of the city's most admired works of architecture with a history worthy of earning a place in history books all over the world. The bridge we see today was built in 1345 and its design is accredited primarily to the Florentine artist and architect Taddeo Gaddi. The original bridge, dating back to Roman times, was made of wood but was first destroyed in 1117 and then again in 1333, both by one of the many floods of the Arno river. It is said to be one of the, if not the oldest, segmental bridges in Europe and consists of three segmental arches spanning from a width of 27 to 30 meters with heights of 3.5 to 4.4 meters.
The bridge is famous for its many goldsmiths and jewelry shops found on it but was initially used by merchants like butchers, blacksmiths and tanners who sold their goods and services primarily to the soldiers who crossed it.
In the 1500's Ferdinand I of the Medici's decided to clean up the now much polluted waters of the Arno, due also to the waste of the butchers and tanners found on the bridge, and began to replace the less prestigious merchant with goldsmiths and artists. It was also Ferdinand of the Medici's who had the Vasari corridor built in 1565. The famous corridor runs above the bridge and was built with the aim of allowing him, and others of the Medici family, to walk from the residence at Pitti Palace to Palazzo Vecchio.
Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge which survived WWII and the massive flood of 1966 which wiped out most of the shops on the bridge but not the bridge itself.