Shops on the Ponte Vecchio
For centuries on end, the famed shops on the Ponte Vecchio have specialized in gold and silver. This wasn’t always the case, however. Butchers were in business along the bridge prior to its becoming a jewelry hot spot. They were eradicated upon order of the Grand Duke of Tuscany in the 1500's. This Grand Duke, or Cosimo I, as he was also known, used to cross the bridge along a corridor that sits above the shops, and he didn’t exactly appreciate the smells that wafted up from the butcher shops below.
The Ponte Vecchio has been a place of business since it was completed in the 1340's. Today, the shops that are found along its stretch display some pretty precious items. Because of the nature of the goods, a relatively healthy budget is essentially required if you really want to do some shopping on the Ponte Vecchio. That being said, it can be fun to simply drop by and peruse some of the gold and silver items. This is a popular pursuit among tourists, partly because of the fact that the views of the Arno River that can be enjoyed from the bridge are also of high quality.
In relation to the history of the Ponte Vecchio and its commercial activity, it is interesting to note that the shops were damaged by a flood in 1966. According to some accounts, a night watchman noticed that the river was rising, and he took it upon himself to call the shop owners. This allowed the owners to remove their high-priced goods before they could be swept away.