When I stop off at the Rialto Bridge on my own ‘working’ Italian holidays, I am reminded of how important this structure is to the history and development of Venice. Oh what a colourful story this bridge has experienced.
My name is Guido, Italian native, travel enthusiast and founder of Ciao Italy & Carrani Tours. In my last few blogs I’ve talked about Venice – namely, why Venice is so unique, the best restaurants to try when you visit Venice Italy and the benefits of seeing Venice from a gondola. Now, to follow on perfectly from seeing Venice from a Gondola, here is a little piece about the Rialto Bridge in Venice and why this interesting little bridge is definitely a sight to stop off at when you visit Venice Italy during your Italian vacations.
For instance, it is one of four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice. But for many years, this crossing was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot. And so, the Rialto Bridge, or as we say the Ponte di Rialto is the oldest bridge in Venice Italy.
Barrattieri built the first version of the Rialto Bridge in 1181. It was called Ponte dell Moneta as it was located close to the mint.
In 1225 this was replaced by a new wooden structure because of the increasing importance of the Rialto area and the associated pressure on the old crossing. It was designed so the central section could be removed to let tall ships pass through. I do love the stories of Venetians and their ingenious approach to architecture.
In 1310, the Rialto Bridge was partially burned down during the infamous riots in the city which were connected to Tiepolo’s plot to over throw the current Doge.
In the 15th Century, the bridge had two rows of shops added to it. The rents from the shopkeepers helped to maintain the Rialto Bridge. However, the bridge was obviously under pressure as it partially collapsed in 1444 as a crown of venetians stood and watched a boat festival pass by. The same thing happened in 1524!
In 1551, the authorities progressed the idea of building a new bridge. Given its history, they thought stone would be a good idea. Architects and designers submitted plans – including the famous Michelangelo. However it was the aptly named Antonio da Ponte who won the contract to design and build the bridge. And it is his bridge that stands in position today – over 450 years later. It remained the only way to cross the Grand Canal until 1854 when the Accademia Bridge was opened.
The arch of the Rialto Bridge Venice Italy is 7.5 metres high and was designed to let galley ships pass – because Venice depended upon the trade from sea merchants. The 12,000 wood pilings that the Rialto Bridge was built upon still support it today. You can cross the bridge on one of three walkways – two along the outer side and one in the centre from where you can access the little shops that sell the famous Murano glassware and other souvenirs from Venice.
The Rialto Bridge in Venice Italy is one of the city’s iconic sights. To find out more about this bridge that’s witnessed so much of Venice’s history you would be most welcome to join us at Ciao Italy & Carrani Tours on one of our licensed tours in Venice:
I hope that when you travel to Venice Italy on your Italian vacation that you thoroughly enjoy everything this culturally rich city has to offer and the stories it can share with you. I am very sure you will. Ciao Italy & Carrani Tours has the pleasure of helping visitors to fully appreciate Venice and other sights with our tours in Italy. We would love to help you do the same during your holidays in Italy. Visit us at ciaoitalytours.com for more information.
If you would like more information like these Venice travel tips – like other travel advice for Italy and information about tours in Italy or Italian vacations please do visit us at ciaoitalytours.comWe always say that with us, your Italian tour or Italian vacations will be one you’ll never forget.