The Old Bridge

A day on the Ponte Vecchio

Jon Santiago
November 6, 2014

The old bridge kept drawing me back. I spent hours there, early and late, back and forth. Watching. Seeking its rhythms. Hoping to record the sad and beautiful, the joyous and transcendent things to which the bridge itself bears witness over the course of its day

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The old bridge has as many moods as a teenager, as many costumes as any thoughtfully turned out Florentine. Its great virtues are the same ones it shares with all other Florentines: a shrugging sort of tolerance, an air of rueful patience. 

 

By day, it is businesslike and preoccupied with comings and goings, attending to the crowd of things that ceaselessly demand attention. In the night, finally a few hours for itself. Looked after by its guardian, it allows itself to fill with shadows and stillness, betrays its age.he old bridge has as many moods as a teenager, as many costumes as any thoughtfully turned out Florentine. Its great virtues are the same ones it shares with all other Florentines: a shrugging sort of tolerance, an air of rueful patience.

 

Photos by Jon Santiago

 

The old bridge is a survivor. Long ago, its brethren up and down the Arno have succumbed to fire, flood and war. It alone remains.

 

Having survived so much for so very long, it seems to persist as much out of habit as from a determination that its work is not quite yet finished. It continues to link the past and the present: an open-air proscenium for every sort of human transience.

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 It knows us too well, certainly better than we in our brief lives will ever know anything at all.

 

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In the end, perhaps it deigns to support our weight across its back per carità. And perhaps, like other survivors who have seen great currents of time pass before them, it can only regard us and murmur, not unkindly, ‘Youth is wasted on the young.

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