A stroll across the old bridge with its jewellery stores is particularly pleasant at sunset when the last rays of sunlight reflect in the river.
The "Old Bridge" is one of Florence's landmarks. Back in Etruscan times there was already a river crossing here, while during the Roman era it was the site of the Via Cassia, one of Rome's most important trade routes to the north. The present bridge, which spans the river at its narrowest point, was built by either Neri di Fioravanti or Taddeo Gaddi in 1345. It has the typical overhanging shops on the bridge. From 1422 until 1593, these shops were mainly occupied by butchers. When the grand ducal family moved into the Palazzo Pitti, they were offended by the smell and Ferdinand I ordered that forthwith only gold and silversmiths would be permitted to practice their profession on the bridge. So that he could cross from Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti without getting his feet wet, in 1565 Cosimo I commissioned his architect Giorgio Vasari to build the Corridoio Vasariano over the shops on the eastern side. The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge to survive destruction at the hands of the retreating German army in 1944, although large sections of the old living quarters were destroyed at both ends of the bridge. Today the bridge with its jewellery shops is one of the city's great attractions.