The Ponte Vecchio is an amazing structure that has survived throughout the centuries. Stroll lazily onto it and feel the weight of its history. Gaze onto the Arno River as the light plays on its waters. Feel the romance of Florence as you feel the wind gently linger on your skin. Literally translated as "old bridge", the Ponte Vecchio has been destroyed by natural disasters and rebuilt time and time again. It was originally built in Roman times. It was a major crossing for soldiers. Eventually it became home to merchants who realized the economic advantage of setting up shop on the Ponte Vecchio. Destroyed in 1333 when a flood washed away its wooden foundation, it was rebuilt in 1345 with a stone foundation. Around medieval times, after the Black Plague, the powerful Medicis moved to Florence. Cosimo I de'Medici could not stand the stench from the common shops and soon the Medici wealth and influence forced the blacksmiths and butchers to move off the bridge to make way for goldsmiths and artisans. Between 1565 and 1800, a back row of shops were added. Additionally, in 1565, the top level of the bridge was added as Cosimo I de'Medici's own personal crossing from his offices to his home, Pitti Palace. Miraculously, Ponte Vecchio survived WWII unscathed. It was the only of Florence's bridges to do so. Ironically, the bridge did not survive nature. In 1966, the shops were destroyed by flood, although the bridge itself survived. It remains the only bridge in Italy that has buildings on it. Today, the Ponte Vecchio is a bustling market of gold shops. From its meager beginnings as a crossing for soldiers to its opulent shops today, it still holds its roots of function, practicality, and mercantilism.