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Ponte delle Catene


Area: Mediavalle
District/Locality: Bagni di Lucca
Dating: 1836-1860

Ponte delle Catene (Chain Bridge) is one of the first suspension bridges ever built in Italy. The wooden and metallic catwalk is held by metal cables supported by piers. The traditional design of the piers, which echoes the roman (and Napoleonic) triumphal arches, and the advanced construction technique mark the style of the architect of the bridge Lorenzo Nottolini (1787-1851).
The bridge was built under the patronage of Charles of Bourbon, after a flood of the stream Lima had destroyed the older bridge in 1836. The Duke of Lucca wanted the road to Bagni di Lucca, an exclusive thermal resort at the time, to be provided with an avant-garde building. With this aim, Nottolini was sent to England to become familiar with suspension bridges. The bridge structure, with a large belvedere opening onto the catwalk, was conceived not just as a mean to cross the stream, but also as a gathering place for the town social life. The bridge construction was interrupted owing to bureaucratic issues, arising when the Duchy of Lucca was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1847. In 1860, under the patronage of Bettino Ricasoli, the construction was accomplished following Nottolini's project.
In 2003, the restoration of the bridge has begun. It is financed by the Province of Lucca with the contribution of the World Monument Found American Express.
How to reach

by car:From Lucca take the SS12 road in direction of Abetone and reach Chifenti, where the bridge is sited.
Bibliography

- Marco Dezzi Bardeschi Rinaldo Evangelisti Vincenzo Regoli Pier Carlo Santini, Lorenzo Nottolini architetto a Lucca, Milano, 1970
- Istituto e museo di storia della scienza Firenze. http://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it. Scheda a cura di Graziano Magrini.

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