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  • Medici Bridge, Ponte a Cappiano, Fucecchio.zoom in altra finestra
  • Medici Bridge, Ponte a Cappiano, Fucecchio.zoom in altra finestra

Medici Bridge of Cappiano

The Medicean Bridge of Cappiano, on the Usciana canal, an emissary of the Padule di Fucecchio (the Fucecchio marshes), played a leading role historically in the system of inland navigation that connected the Bientina Lake, the Padule di Fucecchio, the Arno River and the sea, allowing trade to be carried out in the section between Pistoia and Pisa. This network of waterways was substantially functional up to the time of the nineteenth-century land reclamation projects.

Already in the Middle Ages we find mention of the Cappiano Bridge, managed by the Hospitallers of Altopascio and included in the itinerary of the Via Francigena. In 1325, consequent to a conflict between Florence and Lucca, the bridge was destroyed. It was then rebuilt and fortified with a tower. Subsequently, it became a drawbridge. Leonardo, on folio RLW 12685, indicates and depicts the Cappiano bridge with its defensive structure and, in particular, a tower.

The complex was equipped with a lock to regulate the outflow of the water, and to be used for eel fishing. A water-driven sawmill competed the works.

In the first half of the 16th century Cosimo I de' Medici decided to rebuild the bridge, basically in the form in which we see it today. At that time the covered and the open bridge were built, along with various other buildings: a tavern, an iron-works, a mill and the house of the supervisor who presided over the administration of the farm. This moment is recalled by two stone tablets, one in Latin, the other in Italian:

COSIMO MEDICI DUCA DI FIORENZA
HA RIFATTO QUESTO LOCO DA' FONDAMENTI
PER BENEFIZIO PUBBLICO
ET NON SIA CHI LO DISFACCIA PIU
CON ISPERANZA D'ACQUISTARNE COMMODO AL PAESE
SAPPIENDO OGNI VOLTA CHE S' DISFATTO
ESSERSI PERDUTO
DI SOTTO L'USO DELLA TERRA
ET DI SOPRA DELLA PESCAGIONE
SENZA ACQUISTO ALCUNO

[Cosimo Medici Duke of Florence has rebuilt this place from the foundations for the public benefit and may no one destroy it again in the hopes of helping the town
knowing that whenever it is destroyed the use of the land below is lost
and that of fishing above without benefit of any kind]

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Texts by Graziano Magrini

English translation by Catherine Frost

Last update 15/feb/2008