Ponte degli Alpini – Bassano del Grappa, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Ponte degli Alpini

Bassano del Grappa, Italy

Destroyed numerous times, this centuries-old bridge has always been rebuilt with its original design. 

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Ponte degli Alpini (Bridge of the Alpini), also known as Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), is a bridge over the River Brenta in the city of Bassano del Grappa, in northeastern Italy.

The first wooden bridge on the site was built in 1209, but was destroyed in a flood in 1567. Rebuilding of the bridge started immediately, with one of the most famous architects of that time, Andrea Palladio, personally designing the new span in a way that closely resembled the old one but with structural improvements. The new wooden bridge was completed in 1569.

The bridge designed by Palladio survived until 1748, when it was destroyed by another flood. It was quickly rebuilt with the same design again, before being destroyed once more in a fire in 1813. In 1821 the bridge was restored, keeping the previous design. During World War I, the bridge became famous because it was crossed by the Italian Army on its way to the frontline, just a few miles from Bassano del Grappa. The bridge survived that war, but not World War II—it was taken out by a bomb in 1945. When the bridge was built again in 1948, with many of the workers former members of the Alpini, the Italian Army’s mountain infantry. Because of this and in honor of the many Alpini who died in the wars, it became known as Ponte degli Alpini.

Today, Ponte degli Alpini retains its 16th-century appearance, as designed by Andrea Palladio, and is a rare surviving example of a covered wooden pontoon bridge.