Ponte dei Trepponti: A Unique 5-Way Bridge

May 12, 2023 0 comments

The Ponte dei Trepponti or Trepponti bridge is a rare five-way bridge located in Comacchio, Italy. Although the name “Trepponti”, originating from the word tre (three) and ponti (bridge), suggests a three-way bridge, there are, in fact, five approaches. The prefix “tri-“ refers to the split in the canal underneath the bridge.

The masonry arch bridge was built in 1638 as part of the Comacchio’s renovation, after the city was left devastated by raids. Architect Luca Danese was tasked with drafting the city's renovation plans and designed the Trepponti bridge as part of its new defensive works. The Trepponti bridge would be one of the city's main gates as well as the entryway into its internal canal network.

Photo: Edoardo Cuoghi

The Ponte dei Trepponti spans the Palotta canal, which splits up underneath it. The Sant'Agostino and San Petro canals that made up the old Comacchio moat also intersect the canal here, which necessitated a five-way bridge. The five bridges are connected by a central Istrian stone floor that makes up a small pentagonally-shaped public square, held up by a cross-vaulted ceiling. Five large staircases connect the bridge to the city streets and the fish market below.

When Trepponti bridge was initially constructed, its distinctive guard towers were missing. They were added in 1695 to reinforce the defensive parapets, under the rule of Cardinal Giuseppe Renato Imperiali. During his rule, the side walls of the staircase were also raised for defensive purposes. In 1823, the parapets were removed and replaced by decorative columns.

One of the towers contain a plaque that contains a passage from the Italian poet Torquato Tasso:

Like the fish where our sea becomes swampy / in the breasts of Comacchio, / escapes from the impetuous and raw wave / looking in placid waters where it shelters, / and it comes that from itself and locks itself up / in marshy prison nor can it return, / that that menagerie is with wonderful use / always to enter open, to exit closed.

— Torquato Tasso

Photo: Vanni Lazzari/Wikimedia

Photo: Vanni Lazzari/Wikimedia


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