Il Ponte Vecchio
Bassano is a city with a millenary history, at the foot of the slopes of Monte Grappa, about 35 km north east of Vicenza. Its location, where the Brenta river flows onto the plain, is dictated by the presence of the bridge that marked out its fortune as a trade centre. In 1569 the local people called on Palladio to present a design to rebuild the bridge, destroyed in one of the notorious Brenta floods. The architect designed a stone bridge with three arches inspired by the masterpieces of Ancient Rome (see the design of the bridge over the Tesina river of the same era), but the Municipality refused the proposal because over the centuries experience had taught that only an elastic material like wood is suitable for withstanding the current when the river is flowing at top speed. In a second attempt Palladio reworked the previous wooden structure from both a static point of view, introducing triangular structures aligned with the flow of water, and also aesthetic, adding flourish to the frame with a series of Tuscan-style columns to support the cover. The robustness of the bridge has been shown by its duration in time: two centuries, before it was rebuilt to the same design in 1748. A second reconstruction dates back instead to the end of the Second World War, after its destruction by retreating German soldiers; it subsequently survived the ruinous flood of 1966. A symbol of the city, the Ponte degli Alpini, or Ponte Vecchio, as it is called by the people of Bassano, is linked also to memories of the First World War and in particular the events affecting the Alpini soldiers.