You need to head to the northern corner of the Eternal City to see one of its most overlooked landmarks. For me, Ponte Milvio (Milvian Bridge) is among the most interesting of Rome’s bridges.
The Milvian Bridge has a long and fascinating history and is all the better for being off the main tourist radar.
Want to know more? Read on for my hand-picked Ponte Milvio facts and history.
1. The bridge is around 170 metres long and has four stone arches
Ponte Milvio connects Piazzale Cardinale Consalvi in the northern quadrant of Rome’s historical centre and Piazzale di Ponte Milvio.
2. Ponte Milvio has a long history
The bridge was built in 109 BC by the Censor Marco Emilio Scauro and carried the Via Flaminia over the Tiber.
3. It is also called Ponte Molle
The bridge was originally known by its Latin name, Pons Mulvius. This is probably derived from the Mulvia family who commissioned it.
Ponte Molle (or Mollo) came into popular usage in the Middle Ages.
4. A famous battle took place here
Ponte Milvio was an economically and strategically significant bridge during the Roman Empire, thanks to its position among the important Flaminia consular roads.
Cicero captured the emissaries of the Allobroges here in 63 BC.
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge took place here in 312 AD. This pivotal battle between Constantine and Maxentius resulted in Constantine’s victory and ascent to power. Following his defeat, Maxentius was thrown into the Tiber and drowned.
5. Today’s bridge dates from the 19th Century
Milvian Bridge has been rebuilt multiple times over the centuries
Nicholas V remodelled the bridge in the 15th Century and added a watchtower. It was restored in 1805 by Pope Pius VII who commissioned Guiseppe Valadier to build a triumphal arch at its entrance.
Garibaldi blew it up in 1849 to stop the advance of French troops. In 1850, it was restored yet again, this time by Pius IX.
6. Ponte Milvio has been featured in books, movies and works of art
Through its historical legacy, the bridge has gained cultural importance.
Giulio Romano painted the fresco The Battle of the Milvian Bridge (1520-1524) under the guidance of Raphael. This is displayed in the Vatican Museums.
Italian author Federico Moccia featured the bridge in two of the best-selling novels of the last 30 years: Three Meters Above Heaven (1992) and I Want You (2004). Step and Babi, the two novels’ main characters, confirm their love by attaching a padlock to one of the streetlights on the bridge and chucking the key into the river.
7. Ponte Milvio has become Rome’s padlock bridge
Thanks to Federico Moccia’s novels, Ponte Milvio ignited a global trend for declaring your devotion to a loved one on a bridge. Hopeless romantics attached padlocks to the railings of the bridge as a symbol of their love.
However, the tonnes of padlocks attached to the bridge became a problem for Rome City Council. At one point, there were so many locks attached to the streetlights on Ponte Milvio that some of them toppled over.
In 2012, the city authorities placed a ban on attaching new padlocks. However, this hasn’t deterred determined couples from attaching new locks, usually under the cover of night.
8. Ponte Milvio has been a romantic spot since the time of Ancient Rome
In his book The Annals, the great Roman historian and senator, Tacitus, tells us the bridge was “famous for its nocturnal attractions.” He also reveals Emperor Nero “was in the habit of frequenting it” specifically for these “attractions.”
9. Ponte Milvio Market is one of the region’s best
For more than 20 years, antique dealers and curio collectors have set up their stalls in the shadow of Ponte Milvio. The market takes place each Sunday from 9 am until 6 pm.
10. This is Rome’s nightlife bridge
The area around Ponte Milvio is also known for its restaurants, cafes and nightlife. It attracts people seeking entertainment and a vibrant atmosphere.
Thank you for reading my collection of Ponte Milvio facts
The easiest way to reach Ponte Milvio is to catch tram #2 from Flaminio metro station at Piazza del Popolo.