First built out of wood in the early 1200s, the Ponte alla Carraia was named after the carts of wool transported between the dye works around Ognissanti and cloth workers in San Frediano.
Even by Florentine standards, it has often collapsed. Usually floods on the Arno were to blame, but its 1304 version played a leading role in that year’s most memorable disaster: a company staging a water pageant of the Inferno, complete with monsters, devils and tortured souls, attracted such a large crowd that the bridge collapsed under the weight, and all were drowned. Later it was drily commented that all the Florentines who went to see Hell that day found what they were looking for.
A version that followed in 1333 may have been designed by Giotto; in 1557 Grand Duke Cosimo commissioned Bartolomeo Ammannati (who also designed the Ponte Santa Trínita) to build a new one that survived until the Second World War, when all the bridges except the Ponte Vecchio where blown up by the retreating German army. The current version, reminiscent of Ammanatti's, is by Ettore Fagiuoli and was completed in 1948.
Image by Andrea Mancini