Ponte di Rialto

In olden times it was the only fixed connection between the wto banks of the Grand Canal. Legend has it that in 1181 Nicolò Bareteri built a bridge of boats called the “Quartarolo”, from the small coin that was charged as a toll. In the 13th century it was replaced by a wooden bridge which was destroyed in the revolt by Bajamonte Tiepolo, who retreated with his followers towards the Tiepolo and Querini houses by the Rialto. The bridge was rebuilt but with the passage of time it fell into ruin and finally collapsed in 1444 under the weight of the great crowd gathered to watch the passage of the Marquess of Ferrara. It was rebuilt in wood in a larger form, with shops and a mobile bridge. At the beginning of the 1500s it was so run down that it was restored again by the architect Giorgio Spavento (1501); it partially collapsed and in 1524 it was decided to rebuild it in stone. The most famous architects of the time (Michelangelo, Palladio, Vignola, Sansovino and later Antonio da Ponte, Vincenzo Scamozzi and Alvise Bandù) all submitted plans for the reconstruction. Da Ponte was the builder (but only in part the designer) with the help of his nephew Antonio Contin. The bridge was built between 1588 and 1591 under the doge Pasquale Cicogna and his commerorative epitaph can be seen on its four sides. It is a hefty structure, strongly built on piles, of a single arch more than 28 metres long which supports two files of shops which are connected at the centre by two great arches which divide the wholr width of the bridge into three parts.

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