The Old Bridge in Bassano del Grappa Italy – love, history and nature

Ponte di Bassano del Grappa

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“Sul ponte di Bassano ci daremo la mano” – “We will hold our hands on the Bassano Bridge”. What to see in Bassano del Grappa Italy? As the song says, the Old Bridge is the true highlight of the city and mirrors the people’s love for their dear bridge. It is at the same time a symbol for resilience and rebirth.

The Old Bridge, also known as Ponte di Bassano or Ponte degli Alpini, stands majestically over the city, with its wooden structure and pillars immersed in the cold waters of the Brenta River. It is a remarkable sight to see, as it proudly overlooks the city and stands as a testament to the engineering and architectural prowess of its builders. Three times destroyed and three times rebuilt, the Old Bridge Vecchio has kept its architecture for more than 500 years after witnessing floods, wars and different peoples.

Let’s find out more about its history.

The centuries-old star of Bassano del Grappa, Italy: the Old Bridge

The city of Bassano del Grappa, Italy was a strategic center and had over the centuries a simple yet difficult need: crossing the Brenta River, a raging river especially during spring and autumn floods. The earliest evidence dates back to the 1200s. The first bridge lasted until 1567, when it was knocked down by a flood. This is where Andrea Palladio came in, the well-known Venetian architect who was called in to build a new bridge for the Bassano community. The stone design that echoed ancient Roman bridges was deemed too lavish by the population. So wood was chosen to withstand the flooding of the Brenta river. Strength and visual impact were the main features followed by the architect.

The wooden bridge was 58 meters long and rested on four triangular wooden piers. Palladio also designed a cover to protect it from wind and rain. But even this beautiful one was not spared by the fury of the 1748 flood. Bartolomeo Ferracina’s construction followed.

Unfortunately, even this bridge dating from the 18th century is not what we admire today. It was not the flood, but the war that destroyed it. In 1945, it was bombed to isolate the city from the Germans. In 1947 the bridge was rebuilt following Palladio’s design. In 2021, finally after seven years of restoration, the Bridge was returned to its people.

Interesting facts about the Old Bridge in Bassano del Grappa, Italy

Besides being a symbol of resilience and rebirth, the Old Bridge hides several interesting facts:

  • It is the Bridge of Love: people in the past used to hide love notes in the cracks of the Palladian bridge, what happens with padlocks for other bridges!
  • It is the Bridge of History: the facade of the Nardini Grapperia that is clearly visible from the bridge is marked by holes. Do they date back to World War II? Even earlier! We are talking about the Battle of Bassano in 1796 between Napoleon’s Italian-French army and the Austrian army.
  • It is and will always be Palladio’s Bridge: the famous architect’s signature lies in its slightly curved shape, in the four piers supporting the spans and the gabled structure. What has changed is the addition of lighting that enlivens the bridge at night, donated by the National Alpine Association.
  • It is the Bridge of the Alpini: Alpini are the Italian Army’s specialist mountain infantry. Where did this name come from? The Bridge was proudly rebuilt by the so-called “Black Feathers” in 1948.

In 2019, this bridge was designated a national monument, being considered one of the most picturesque bridges in Veneto as well as in Italy. Mistreated by nature and men, today the Old Bridge stands in all its beauty and tells its own centuries-old story.

| Keep reading: Bassano, its hidden Gems and 3 must-see Jewels |

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