The historic Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is perhaps the most recognized symbol of Florence after Brunelleschi’s soaring red dome topping the Duomo. The three lower arches of this 14th-century bridge span the Arno River at its narrowest point between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti Palace, and a stretch of the famous Vasari Corridor runs along its top. Situated on street level, the Ponte Vecchio is lined with pocket-sized jewelry shops and packed with locals and tourists taking a stroll or snapping photos of the colorful palazzi lining the river bank.
The Ponte Vecchio is one of the most famous bridges in Italy and a popular, crowded sight in Florence. A visit to the bridge is often included in city sightseeing tours and small-group walking tours through the historic center of Tuscany's capital city, along with other Florentine highlights like the nearby Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, Uffizi Gallery, and Michelangelo's David (housed in the Accademia Gallery a short walk away).
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Ponte Vecchio is closed to traffic but is patrolled by police cars and other service vehicles.
- The bridge leads to the Oltrarno neighborhood, a trendy part of Florence on the opposite side of the river filled with excellent restaurants and cafés.
- There are no stairs on either side of the bridge, so it is fully accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- The gold and silversmith shops on Ponte Vecchio are quite respectable—some have been there for a century—and are an excellent place to choose a special gift or souvenir.
How to Get to There
The Ponte Vecchio crosses the River Arno just a block from the Uffizi Gallery, linking the historic center to the Oltrarno neighborhood.
When to Get There
The center of Florence can be uncomfortably crowded during the popular summer months, and it can be a challenge to navigate the crowds on the bridge. Take an early morning or late evening stroll if visiting between April and October to savor the sunrise or sunset over the RIver Arno without the crowds.
The Vasari Corridor and the Ponte Vecchio
Located on the opposite banks of the Arno River, the 16th-century Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano) is an elevated passageway running between Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. Commissioned by Duke Cosimo I de' Medici in 1565 and designed by Giorgio Vasari, the walkway was once a secret route used by the Medici family to travel unnoticed through the city. Today, the corridor is used as an art gallery, and visitors can admire views over the Arno River from large windows added to the section of the corridor running over the Ponte Vecchio.