Ponte Sisto

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Ponte Sisto

Ponte Sisto is a bridge in Rome's historic centre, spanning the river Tiber. It connects Via dei Pettinari in the Rione of Regola to Piazza Trilussa in Trastevere. The construction of the current bridge occurred between 1473 and 1479, and was commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV (r. 1471-84), after whom it is named, from the architect Baccio Pontelli, who reused the foundations of a prior Roman bridge, the Pons Aurelius, which had been destroyed during the early Middle Ages. Currently traffic on the bridge is restricted to pedestrians.

Roman Pons Aurelius[edit]

The former Acqua Paola fountain now in Piazza Trilussa.

The predecessor bridge to Ponte Sisto, the Pons Aurelius, was first mentioned by authors in the 4th and 5th centuries and was later known in the Middle Ages as "Pons Antoninus", "Pons Antonini in Arenula", and "Pons Ianicularis id est pons ruptus vulgariter nominatus et Tremelus et Antoninus".[1]

The Pons Antoninus was partially destroyed in 772, at the time the Lombard king Desiderius took Rome, and rebuilt in its current form by Pope Sixtus IV, whose name it carries to this day.

Renaissance Ponte Sisto[edit]

The bridge is architecturally characteristic because of the circular "oculus" or eye lightening the masonry of its central spandrel: this was erected to diminish the river's pressure on the bridge in case of flood.

On the left bridge head are placed the copies of two marble slabs bearing an elegant Latin inscription composed by Renaissance humanist Bartolomeo Platina in honour of Sixtus IV in occasion of the construction of the bridge. They recite:

XYSTVS IIII PONT MAX
AD VTILITATEM P RO PEREGRINAEQVE MVLTI
TVDINIS AD JVBILAEVM VENTVRAE PONTEM
HVNC QVEM MERITO RVPTVM VOCABANT A FVN
DAMENTIS MAGNA CVRA ET IMPENSA RESTI
TVIT XYSTVMQVE SVO DE NOMINE APPELLARI VOLVIT
Detail of an arch

and

MCCCCLXXV
QVI TRANSIS XYST QVARTI BENEFICIO
DEVM ROGA VT PONTEFICEM OPTIMVM MAXI
MVM DIV NOBIS SALVET AC SOSPITET BENE
VALE QVISQVIS ES VBI HAEC PRECATVS
FVERIS

On the corner of via dei Pettinari and via Giulia once stood a fountain, the mostra (display) of the Acqua Paola, a Roman aqueduct brought back to working order by Pope Paul V (r. 1605-21): the water was brought from Lake Bracciano to Trastevere and from there over the bridge to the Campo Marzio. The bridge still carries the water of the Acqua Paola across the river in eight large pipes.

Modern age[edit]

The bridge at night with Saint Peter's dome in background

After the Unification of Italy in 1870, the buildings surrounding the mostra dell'acqua paola were destroyed for the erection of the Lungotevere along the river side, and the fountain itself was relocated to Piazza Trilussa on the other side of the bridge, where it delivers water to this day.

In 1877, two large cast-iron pedestrian gangways resting on marble consoles were added to the sides of the bridge. After considerable controversies, Rome`s mayor Francesco Rutelli let them be demolished in 2000, restoring Ponte Sisto`s pristine silhouette, and since then traffic on the bridge has been restricted to pedestrians.

Today the Ponte Sisto connects the lively and popular Campo de' Fiori area and the via dei Pettinari and via Giulia with Piazza Trilussa in Trastevere across the river, where many young Romans gather for an aperitivo on a Friday night.

Coordinates: 41°53′32.4″N 12°28′14.7″E / 41.892333°N 12.470750°E / 41.892333; 12.470750

References[edit]

  1. ^ The "Antonine Bridge", the Bridge of the Antonines in via Arenula", and the "Bridge to the Janiculum, that is, the broken bridge commonly called both 'Tremelus' and 'Antonine'".

External links[edit]