Facts about the Ponte Vecchio see the historic bridge over the Arno River being completed in 1345. Most accounts attribute its design to Taddeo Gaddi, though there are some historians who believe that Neri di Fioravanti may have been the primary designer. Either way, the Ponte Vecchio has managed to stand the test of time since its completion, whereas the previous bridges that occupied its site were wiped out by floods.
The Florence bridge that is known as the Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in town. Other bridges that might have given it a run for its money in the age department were destroyed by the Germans during their 1944 retreat of Florence. The Germans decided to spare the Ponte Vecchio, mainly because of the fact that it has long been famous and highly regarded. Much like today, its past appeal as a tourist attraction had a lot to do with the beautiful views that it affords of the Arno River corridor.
The Ponte Vecchio isn’t your average bridge, in that it is home to numerous shops. These shops deal mostly in the gold and silver trade, and the items that they sell tend to command a high price. Gold and silversmiths have operated onsite since the 1500's. Prior to that, the history of the Ponte Vecchio sees it being home to butcher shops primarily. The stench that these shops caused had a lot to do with their removal.
One of the most interesting facts about the Ponte Vecchio relates to the padlocks that many visitors left behind. This practice of locking a padlock to some part of the bridge was a relatively recent thing, and it was commonly related to love. After the padlock is attached, lovers would throw the key into the river, thus signaling their love and dedication to one another. Due largely in part to the destruction that was caused to the Ponte Vecchio by removing padlock after padlock, the practice has been prohibited. These days, a significant fine is levied on those who try to lock something to the famous bridge.