Rebuilding the Bassano Bridge
How many times did the Bridge in Bassano del Grappa collapse? And how many was it rebuilt? Countless.
The most famous bridge in Italy, also known as “Old Bridge” or “Ponte degli Alpini”, was built over the river Brenta in 1209, and destroyed a number of times in the following three centuries – most notably by the flood of 1409 and by the French troops, who set it on fire in 1511, during the War of the League of Cambrai.
Another flood brought it down in 1567, and that’s when Andrea Palladio redesigned and rebuilt it in 1569. Since then, nobody has dared alter the magnificent structure by the famous Padua architect, which was rebuilt over and over again with five wooden spans and four hydrodynamic pylons: after the Brenta flooded in 1748, after a fire set by Eugenio de Beauharnais in 1813, after the antifascist partisans sabotaged it so it would collapse in 1945.
A poem by the Venetian Gasparo Gozzi (1713-1786) describes with chagrin the chaotic and boundless news updates about the 1748 collapse. The literary man apparently felt quite annoyed by media overexposure, way before the Internet Age began…
“Jesus, Holy Mary, what is this,
That could make any Christian decide to unbaptize!
It’s been six days and more, that little by little
I have no other news on my brain.
There was such a huge storm in the mountains,
And so much rain came down in the plains,
That it broke down the Bassano Bridge,
And carried it away like a basket.
I constantly have fifty people behind or in front of me,
Saying: did you hear? What happened?
I answer with wrath and annoyance.
The Bassano Bridge is ruined:
The Bassano Bridge, poor thing.
The Bassano Bridge has drowned.
So in the end, desperately,
When I see someone approaching,
I scream: just get to the matter and tell me about the bridge.”