Long Ago in Spoleto: the history of Ponte Garibaldi

The area in front of Porta Garibaldi has always been the city’s entrance from the north since time immemorial, and when Spoleto was provided with a railway station, it became an even busier centre of traffic. Before the modern layout of the area took its shape, its main feature was the Ponte Sanguinario, used to enter the city by crossing the Tessino stream.

The gradual shifting of the riverbed northwards – a problem already mentioned in a town charter from the end of the 13th century – fatally contributed to the long-forgotten Roman bridge being confined to oblivion.

The ancient bridge would only be rediscovered in 1817 – as recalled by Achille Sansi in his ‘History of Spoleto’ – just when the foundations were laid for a new one, built to access to the city through Porta San Gregorio. This new bridge was completed a few years before pope Leo XII Annibale della Genga rearranged the whole area, demolishing the medieval Porta San Gregorio and raising the so-called Porta Leonina. As can be seen on some postcards from the 1910s, including one reproduced in the volume ‘Spoleto formato cartolina‘ (Spoleto in postcard format), the walking surface of the bridge is still relatively narrow.

Ponte Garibaldi

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Giuseppe Angelini Rota’s guide to Spoleto, written in 1929, states that the Garibaldi bridge was widened and rebuilt in 1922. Various photographs kept in the Carducci photo library, and others from a private collection, show the various ages of the viaduct. A photograph from the 1930s – showing banners of preparations in the town for a Beniamino Gigli concert – shows the profile of the bridge embellished with a balustrade.

Further renovation works after the post-war reconstruction of the Porta Leonina and the area’s street network fixing, were carried out in the 1960s, resulting in a layout which is very similar to the current one.

The Urban Sustainable Mobility Plan – a strategic tool contained in the Agenda Urbana to improve the urban environment, provide greater accessibility, improve safety, reduce pollution, and increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the transport of people and goods – provides for an arrangement of street furniture in the area around Ponte Garibaldi and Piazza Vittoria, as well as a more regular and orderly layout of the pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

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