The Ponte Di Santa Trinita is one of the most beautiful bridges to be found in Italy. Located along the Arno River in Florence, the bridge joins Saint Public Square Trinita to Piazza de’ Frescobaldi and the Palace Feroni Thorns (to the north) and the Palace of the Mission (to the south). Unlike the Ponte Vecchio, which survived the ravages of war, the Di Santa Trinita was completely destroyed in World War II by the retreating German Army in 1944. The German soldiers laid mines on the graceful old structure before detonated them. Within seconds the bridge was gone, swallowed up by the Arno.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
However, this wasn’t the first time the bridge has met with disaster. The original bridge was constructed from wood in 1252. The Frescobaldi family-sponsored its construction and it was named after the nearby church of the Trinita Saint. Unfortunately, the bridge only survived for seven years before collapsing under the weight of a crowd, which had gathered on the bridge.
The bridge was rebuilt in stone and was to last until the great flood of 1333. It too claimed the structure. It was then rebuilt by Taddeo Gaddi, but this bridge would again collapse in 1557.
In 1557 the Grand Duke Cosimo I Medici commissioned a new and stronger bridge to be built. For this bridge he requested the services of architect and sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati. Ammannati was also responsible for the Fountain of Neptune in Palazzo Vecchio. It is believed that Ammannati used the original designs of Michelangelo for the bridge.
When the world went to war in 1939 many great buildings were destroyed throughout Europe. Italy would not be spared. German troops retreated from Florence in 1944, but the soldiers were given orders to destroy all the bridges along the Arno River. One by one they fell; Ponte alla Vittoria, Ponte alla Carraia and Ponte di San Niccolò, until they reached Ponte Vecchio, then something happened. Whether through guilt, respect or divine intervention, orders were disobeyed. Rather than blow up the bridge, the German soldiers chose to place blockades at either end, sparing the bridge the same fate as the others.
The rebuilding of Ponte di Santa Trinita
In 1952 Ponte Di Santa Trinita was painstakingly rebuilt by R. Gizdulich who used the original designs of Ammannati. Even the original stones were dredged from the river . The four decorative statues, which had been positioned on each corner of the bridge, were also recovered from the Arno but were all badly damaged. The statues represented the four seasons, summer, autumn, winter and spring. Spring and Autumn were created by Giovanni Caccini, Winter is by Taddeo Landini, and Summer by Pietro Francavilla. The statues were original commissioned to mark the marriage between Cosimo II and Maria Maddalena of Austria in 1608. In 1961 the head of the Spring statue, which had presumed to have been destroyed, was discovered.