The Ponte Milvio is a bridge in the north of Rome, in the Della Vittoria district, connecting the Piazzale Cardinal Consalvi to the Piazzale di Ponte Milvio. It became famous when young Italian couples started attaching padlocks around its lampposts as a symbol of their love. What is not generally known is that without the Ponte Milvio the history of the world might have looked completely different.
Ponte Milvio Rome
History and description
The bridge achieved an unexpected notoriety thanks to the movie Ho Voglia di Te (2007). The protagonists, who are young and in love, padlock a chain around one of its lampposts, and throw the key into the river, as a symbol of their eternal love. Thousands of teenagers followed the example and at one point there were even fears that the bridge would collapse under the padlocks’ weight. They were finally removed in September 2012.
The Ponte Milvio is a very old bridge, built where the northernmost part of Rome was to be found and where the Via Flaminio, the Via Cassia and the now less famous but in the olden days of the Roman Empire very important Via Clodia and Via Veientana came together.
It was first mentioned in the year 207 BC. At the time it was made of wood, but in 110 BC Marco Emilio Scauro had it reconstructed in brick.
In the year 312 the bridge was the background of the “Battle of the Ponte Milvio” (also called “Battle of Saxa Rubra”), in which Constantine I beat his supposedly stronger rival Maxentius. Before the battle Constantine had a vision of the Cross with the writing In hoc signo vinces (“in this sign you will conquer”), which convinced him to allow the integration of Christianity into the empire. Had he lost the battle, Christianity might not have survived.
Since the Middle Ages, the Ponte Milvio has been restored many times, first by the monk Acuzio, then (1429) by the architect Francesco da Genazzano, and later by Giuseppe Valadier who reconstructed the arches closest to the banks of the river and built a neo-classical tower at its north end (1805).
After the bridge had been demolished by Garibaldi (1849) in order to stop the French troops, Pope Pius IX had it reconstructed and commissioned Domenico Pigiani to sculpt a statue of the Immaculate Virgin. Another statue of Saint John Nepomuceno was already there and a further group picturing Jesus’ Baptism, which used to adorn the south end, has since been moved to the Museo di Roma a Palazzo Braschi.
Of the original Roman bridge only the three central arches are left.
When the Ponte Flaminio was built in 1951 the Ponte Milvio became relatively superfluous and in 1978 it was closed to traffic.
The area around Ponte Milvio has now become one of Rome’s favorite ones for young people to stroll around in and enjoy an aperitivo in one of its many cafes. There is also a fairly big weekday market right by the bridge.