Ponte delle Catene (Chain Bridge)

The Ponte delle Catene connects the two banks of the Lima river between Fornoli and Chifenti.

In 1836 a violent flooding of the river destroyed the Ponte d’Oro, a bridge erected in mediaeval times: as a result of this event, the Prince of Lucca Carlo Ludovico of Bourbon, commissioned architect Lorenzo Nottolini to design a new bridge, inspired by Anglo-Saxon models. Nottolini then went to England to study suspension bridges made of iron and stone, futuristic at the time, because they exploited the most advanced industrial techniques for modelling metal.

Work began in 1840, with the creation of the two triumphal arches in neoclassical styled serena stone but then work ceased and was completed only in 1860. The greatest effort went into bridge design and completing the complicated mechanisms that even today maintain the tension in heavy iron chains that hold the rods to which the roadway is fastened.

The Ponte della Catene of Fornoli has withstood numerous floods without suffering collapse but nothing could survive the mines placed by the retreating German troops: in 1944 the bridge was partially destroyed and remained impassable until 1950, when it was rebuilt. In recent times, a further restoration has given new life to the work, bringing it back to its original magnificence.


Ponte delle Catene (Chain Bridge), access arch
Ponte delle Catene (Chain Bridge), view of bridge walkway
Ponte delle Catene (Chain Bridge), general view of bridge