Ponte di Mezzo

Ponte di Mezzo dal Lungarno (L. Corevi , Comune di Pisa)
Ponte di Mezzo dal Lungarno (L. Corevi , Comune di Pisa)
Some documents dated between 1111 and 1155 mention a bridge between the churches of San Sebastiano in Kinzica (behind the Logge dei Banchi) and San Michele in Borgo, featuring shops, sales counters over the vault and an oratory dedicated to the Virgin. Its name changed from pons de Arno to pons vetus, then ponte vecchio and finally Mezzo (it was the name of the district that could be accessed by crossing the river from south to north). The disastrous collapse of 1637 led to its complete reconstruction completed in 1660 by Francesco Nave, during the government of Cosimo III de’ Medici.

There are three bridges over the Arno to go from one part of the city to the other: the one in the middle is made of stone, and is a little more than half the length of the Pon Royal; it has three arches, with curves of a beautiful white marble, like the stones above the side walls (Montesquieu, 1824).

Destroyed during the Second World War, it was rebuilt in 1959 with a single concrete arch, covered with Verona white marble by architects Renzo Bellucci, Giovanni Salghetti-Drioli and Raffaello Trinci.
The game of the Bridge: In medieval times (its first mention dates back to 1168) it was known by the name of massa schudo, or Mazzascudo and took place in winter in the current Piazza dei Cavalieri. January 17 was the day dedicated to the Battagliaccia, that acted like a school to train the newcomers, followed by the General Battle. The brave of the Gazza and the Gallo, the two factions of the city, were invited to participate by equipping themselves with helmet and breastplate, a shield and a mace in their right hand. With the Florentine domination the game suffered an interruption, but Francesco I de’ Medici promoted its resumption in 1568. The game was moved to the Ponte di Mezzo to simulate a naval battle. In the eighteenth century, the Lorraine decided to end the game. In 1807, the regent of Etruria Maria Luisa, declared that the game is too much for play, and too little for for war and therefore it was suspended. It was resumed in 1935, completely renovated: the clothes, in Spanish late Renaissance style, were designed by the futurist artist Fortunato Bellonzi, six Magistracies were created on each side, Tramontana to the North, Mezzogiorno to the South, but the war interrupted the game again. Since 1982, the Game of the Bridge has been held every year on the last Saturday of June, with a procession of as many as 700 characters in exhibition along all the Pisan Lungarni and a simulated battle on the bridge with the help of a cart pushed by 20 fighters on each side.

Curiosities about the river: given the numerous floods of the Arno, which several times destroyed the bridges of Pisa (the last in 1966, which caused the collapse of the Solferino bridge), the city resorted to several solutions to regulate its course. In 1528, engineer Amadio d'Alberto suggested turning to the genius of Michelangelo Buonarroti for a river water containment project, and so it was. After a full day spent consulting the papers, on 4 June 1528, Michelangelo presented his project, which unfortunately was lost due to the siege of Florence that brought the Medici back to power.
At the end of the sixteenth century, Pisa was experiencing a period of rebirth after the continuous wars against Florence. With the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, many of the most important institutions, such as the Order of the Knights of Santo Stefano, or the Magistracy of the Sea Consuls, attracted new social classes and merchants. The University was growing again and the study of science became increasingly intense, thanks also to the abandonment of many ancient theories following the Council of Trent. In this context was born Galileo Galilei, who was able to see a Lungarno in continuous activity, with boats loaded with goods and quays equipped with the most innovative machinery for lifting the heaviest loads.
The view of the four main Lungarni from the Ponte di Mezzo is among the most romantic in the city, and it is no coincidence that on this bridge stood Pietrino the photographer who, in the 40s and after the war, took pictures of all the couples who passed by, of parents with their children, of friends. The shots were without obligation to purchase, but those who wished to keep alive that moment of their life, that memory suspended over the Arno, could go and buy the photos at his studio.
Piazza Garibaldi, 12 - p.2
Recapito 340 2881113
Vernagalli, 29
Recapito 050 934072
Vicolo delle Donzelle, 3
Recapito 329 8026760
Lungarno Mediceo, 47 - Pisa
Recapito 349 6343068
Lungarno Mediceo, 53
Recapito 050 541080
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