Research Paper on Bridges in Italy
There are about 3000 bridges in Italy. They can be divided into two large categories- bridges in Rome and in Florence. And there also some other bridges that deserve attention, such as Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Ponte della Magdalena, an ancient bridge across the Serchio river in province of Lucca, which is also called the Devil Bridge, Ponte Minich, Ponte segli Scalzi, Ponte dell’Accademia, Ponte delle Gugli, Rialto Bridge, Ponte Vecchio, an early Florentine bridge, Ponte della Liberta, Valeggio sul Mincio and Straight of Missina Bridge. All these bridges were built in different times but they are all predominantly ancient.
These are not only bridges, which perform their primary function for people to cross rivers, but they are also historic heritages that depict era and architectural decisions of the period when they were constructed. They are historical components of the town. Bridges were constructed as elegant, grand passage- ways and remain undividable part of cityscape. In order to follow and understand a specific area of design issues and relate it to the peculiarities of the landscape of the region, it is necessary to discuss and investigate main bridges in Italy (they are all nearly concentrated in Rome, Florence and Venice), their historical background of construction, and their meaning for present day Italy, as an economic state, country that attracts millions of tourists and the country with great historic heritage.
2. Bridges of Florence.
There are four the most outstanding bridges in Florence. They include: Ponte Amerigo Vespucci, Ponte Santa Trinita, Ponte Vecchio and Ponte alla Grazie.
Ponte Amerigo Vespucci lies over Arno River. It function is to connect Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci and Lungarno Soderini. It is a reconstructed bridge. It was designed in the beginning of the 20-th century, but plans of design were not brought into life. In the early 50s of the same century there was held a competition of plans for the construction of this bridge. And finally winners were called- Giuseppe Gori, Enzo Gori, Ernesto Nelli and Riccardo Morandi. They envisioned the bridge with three spans in a thin, plane arch over two piers that would support the roadway. The impression of bridge was as a single, a little bit curved span. In 1957 the construction was completed. This bridge can be definitely called a modern structure, even though it was constructed to correspond to other historical constructions from nearby.
The Ponte Santa Trinita is the bridge over the Arno as well. It was called for the name of an ancient church from nearby. It is a bridge of the Renaissance period. It has three spans. It is the most ancient elliptic bridge in the world and it looks like very elegantly. It was constructed by Bartolomeo Ammanati in two years in the middle of the 16-th century. It is situated neat Ponte Vecchio, and creates a major liaison to the medieval plan of the Florence street.
Speaking about Ponte Vecchio, I must say that this bridge’s age traces back to medieval times. It was primarily the place for butchers and their shops. Nowadays it is the place where people can buy different jewels, souvenirs and works of art. This bridge is also known as the oldest example of stone, closed-spandrel arch bridge. But it is not the oldest segmental arch bridge.
Originally this bridge was made of wood and was built during time of Roman Empire. Then it was rebuilt in 1345 and made of stone this time. The design of the bridge is connected with the name of Taddeo Gaddi. The bridge contains three arches that are segmented and two side arches. Interesting fact about this bridge is that the notion of bankruptcy is said to be emerged actually there. As the merchants’ tables, who were trading their goods of this bridge, and which could not pay their debts, were broken by creditors. This practice was called ‘bancorotto”. And as a result without a place to trade, merchants were no longer able to sell their goods.
In the middle of the 16-th century a corridor (famous as Vasari Corridor for the name of the architect- Giorgio Vasari) above this bridge was built.
Another interesting fact is that this bridge was not destroyed during World War II, as many other Italian bridges were. Ponte alle Grazie was built in the beginning of the 13-th century and it is also a bridge over Arno River. In the middle of the 14-th century it was rebuilt with nine arches. Two more arches were added in two years. Unfortunately during WW II the bridge was destroyed. After the end of the war, there was organized the competition for the best new design of the bridge. In 1953 the new construction was finished and the bridge now consists of four slender piers with arches between them.
3. Bridges of Rome
There are a lot of bridges in Rome, which were built in different times. Among them: Ponte di Castel Giubileo, Confluenza del fiume Aniene nel Tevere, Ponte di Tor di Quinto, Ponte Flaminio, Ponte Milvio, Ponte Duca d’Aogosta, Ponte Risorgimento, Ponte Matteotti, Ponte Nenni, Ponte Regina Margherita, Ponte Cavour, Ponte Umberto I, Ponte Sant’Angelo, Pons Sublicius, Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, Ponte Mazzini, Ponte Sisto, Ponte Palantino, Ponte Testaccio, Ponte Marcone, etc. I would like to concentrate on five of them, the most outstanding from my point of view: Pons Cestius, Pons Fabricius, the Mulvian Bridge and Bridge of Hadrian (Ponte Sant’Angelo) and Pons Sublicius.
Pons Cestius is the bridge made of stone which connects island and the right bank of Tiber River. It was built in around 4-th century BC by emperors Valentinian I, Valens and Gratian. It is rather long-living bridge. It was destroyed only in the 19-th century, but still some ancient structure of it was preserved. It was the first bridge to reach the right bank of Tiber.
In the 19-th century it was destroyed on purpose, as its arches were too small and it was not large enough. The new constructed bridge contained three large arches and one third of the primary material.
Pons Fabricius is said to the oldest Rome Bridge that is still in use. As Pons Cestius it was also built in the 4-th century BC to replace the previous wood bridge that was destroyed with fire. It was about 60 m long and 5.5 m wide. It had two wide arches, which were supported by the central pillar. Today its outer facing is of bricks and travertine, while at that time it was tuff and peperino.
Milvian Bridge is situated in the north of Rome and can be called one of the most important bridges over Tiber River. It was built in 206 BC by consul, and later rebuilt to the bridge made of stone by other consul. In the 15-th century the bridge was reconstructed by architect Francesco da Genazzano probably financed by the church authorities. In 18-19th centuries the bridge was also modified by Valadier and Pigiani.
In 21-th century this bridge attracted couples that are in love and they hang some padlocks as the sing that they are together and are dedicated to each other. But in the beginning of this year this tradition was stopped for the weight of those numerous padlocks.
Aelian Bridge or Ponte Sant’Angelo was constructed during Roman Empire. The bridge is faced with marble and has three arches. Nowadays the bridge is for pedestrians only.
In the 6-7th centuries this bridge was known as bridge of Saint Peter, as pilgrims used it to reach St. Peter’s basilica. In the 16-th centuries is used to show the bodies of the executed people.
And I would like to mention several words about Pons Sublicius. It is the earliest known bridge in ancient Rome. According to legends, it was made totally of wood. Of course, it was rebuilt many times after that. This bridge does not exist no more. And the date of its disappearance cannot be exactly defined.
There are also many marvelous bridges all over Italy, but I would like to describe two of them – Bridge of Sighs in Venice and the Strait of Messina Bridge.
The Straight of Messina Bridge is very new project of bridge construction. It was planned as a suspension bridge in 2006 across the Strait of Messina. But the construction was prohibited by the Italian government for the reasons of underfinancing. If the project was fulfilled, it would be the longest suspension bridge in the world. It presumed 6 traffic lines, two railway tracks and two pedestrian lanes.
The Bridge of Sighs in Venice is a real attraction to tourists from all over the world. It was built in the 16-th century, as many other bridges in Venice. It was made of white limestone and contains windows with stone bars. It made by Antonio Contino. Such name was given to the bridge by Lord Byron in the 19-th century, as he presumed that prisoners should have sighed when their looked for the last time at the beautiful Venice. So, it appeared that the story is not so much romantic, as this bridge connected old prisons and interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace.
In the conclusion I would like to summarize that studying the design of Italian bridges enable follow the landscape peculiarities of it, as well as it is possible to follow historical periods. Study of bridges and architecture in general is very valuable for historians as well as for those who study design issues for the only reason that it is the primary study source, which cannot become secondary as well as cannot be interpreted by anyone.
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