The Ponte delle Torri stands out among the greatest works in stone of the Antiquity. 80 m tall and 230 m long, it worked as aqueduct, bringing water to town through a canal placed on top of it. It still works as a bridge between the centre of the city and Monteluco, thanks to the walkway on the northern side.
Realized in local limestone and supported by nine pillars connected to each other by ogival arches, its dating is still hardly determinable, yet its present aspect is usually agreed upon around the XIII – XIV centuries.
The two central pillars are hollow and the spaces inside were used as lookouts. Just before the big, central window there is a recess with well-visible hinges, a niche that was once used for surveillance purposes. More recently, when the town was provided with excise tolls, it was used by the excise men who had to inspect those who were about to enter the city.
The bridge has always been fascinating travellers and important historical characters across the ages, and it’s still one of the most famous and remarkable monuments in Spoleto. Thus spoke Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
“I climbed Spoleto, and was on the aqueduct, which is also a bridge from one mountain to another. Through all their centuries, the ten brick arches which reach across the valley have stood there so quietly, and the water still flows in every corner of Spoleto. I have now seen three works by the ancients; they all have the same great meaning, a second nature serving civic ends. That is how they built, and there they are: the amphitheater, the temple, and the aqueduct. Only now do I feel how justified my hatred of all willful things was (…). They are now all as if stillborn, for whatever does not have a true inner existence has no life, and cannot be great, and cannot become great.”
(Italian Journey, 27 October 1816, tr. Andrew Shields)
On the other side of the bridge there is the Fortilizio dei Mulini, the aqueduct’s garrison where water used to feed two mills, before being directed through the bridge. It is here that the Giro dei Condotti and many other footpaths toward the Spoleto mountain begin (cfr. Monteluco e oltre).
Past the bridge, you go on along the Giro, from which you can admire the Spoleto flat, whose beauty pushed St. Francis to say “Nihil jucundius vidi valle mea spoletana” (Never I saw anything more joyous than my Spoleto valley), words that are still carved on the belvedere’s marble slab in Monteluco. Halfway though the path, where Colle S. Elia is closer to the mountain, upon a cliff, there is the so-called Pope’s Chair, a boulder carved in shape of easy-chair, from which the sight of the bridge reaches its highest magnificence.
Notice: the Ponte delle Torri is not currently accessible
Address: via del Ponte
L’Umbria, Manuali per il Territorio, Spoleto, Roma 1978
L. Di Marco, Spoletium: topografia ed urbanistica, Spoleto 1975
A. Sansi, Degli edifici e dei frammenti storici delle antiche età di Spoleto, Foligno 1869