Ponte Della Maddalena or the Bridge Of Mary Magdalene is a river-crossing bridge over the river Serchio. Serchio is the 3rd longest river in the Tuscany region of Italy and measures 126 kilometers in length. The river bridge is located near the Italian town called as Borgo A Mozzano, which lies within the Lucca province in the Northern Tuscany region. The bridge is one of the Devil’s Bridges or Ponte Del Diavolo. All of these bridges have some devil-related folktale or myth. Ponte Della Maddalena was one of the vital bridges of Via Francigena or the pilgrim route that ran from France to Ancient city of Rome. This pilgrim route started from France to Italy’s Rome. The starting point of the route lies in Canterbury’s Cathedral City that is located in England. Hence, the route lies in between the countries England, France, Switzerland and lastly Italy.
The building of the bridge was commissioned by the Countess named Matilda, of Tuscany. It was built between the years 1080 and 1100. The bridge has a classic appearance of a medieval humpback. The unique and distinguishing feature of the bridge is that it has asymmetrical arches. The central portion of the bridge is very high and has great width. The extreme solid state of the bridge seems to defy the law of gravity.
Renovation, Repair and Naming
The bridge was comprehensively renovated in the year 1300 by Castruccio Castracani, who was the Duke of Lucca from 1316 to 1328. The name of the bridge became Ponte Della Maddalena from an oratory that was dedicated to one of Jesus followers named Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene traveled with Jesus as his follower and witnessed his crucifixion and later resurrection. The eastern bank of the bridge had the statue of Mary Maddalena at the bridge’s foot. Giovanni Sercambi, who was an author from the city Lucca and wrote the history of the city, has mentioned the name of the bridge in one of his novels that were written in the 14th century.
During the year 1836 the General Administrative Council of the Lucca Republic issued a law decree that prohibited anyone from crossing the bridge with flour sacks and millstones so that the structure could be preserved.
The bridge was damaged heavily during a disastrous flood that affected the region during the year 1836. At that time, Italian architects worked on the bridge so that it could be repaired and fully restored to its earlier condition. During the early decades of the 20th century, one additional arch was combined and added to the bridge. The arch made more room for surfaced roadway and was added towards the right-hand section of the bridge. This addition transformed and altered the design and structure of the bridge in a considerable manner.
Myth related with the devil’s bridge
Like all devil bridges, this bridge has also got a folk-fore or a myth related with it. According to the myth, a professional master mason worked on the bridge. The mason later was unable to complete the work in time and was gripped with fear and panic as the consequences would be harsh and punishing in nature. He contacted the Devil. The Devil obliged the mason and said that he would complete the whole work in a night but would take the first passerby’s soul who travelled by the bridge. The deal was struck. Later the mason felt sorry and had remorse because of the deal and the meeting he had with the devil. He hence confessed his sin with the religious leader of the area. The leader advised him to cross the bridge himself in the morning. The mason followed suit and mocked the devil that then disappeared inside the Serchio River.
Two restaurants (for eating purposes) are located nearby the bridge. They are quite busy because many tourists visit the monument. The bridge can be reached within 5 minutes from the city. The masterpiece is also very photogenic and has romantic aura.