The Covered Bridge

Piazzale Ponte Ticino, Piazzale Ghinaglia
27100 Pavia PV
From Ponte Coperto to San Giorgio in Monfalcone
Entrance fee: 
Visiting hours: 
always visible

The Covered Bridge on the River Ticino represents one of Pavia’s most symbolic monuments, connecting the historical centre of the city to the area known as Borgo Ticino, a quarter which was once inhabited only by washerwomen, fishermen and boatmen. The current bridge was constructed between the end of the 40s and the beginning of the 50s of the twentieth century, following the destruction of the Medieval covered bridge which was gravely damaged by bombings of the Allied Forces during the Second World War. The old bridge, of which the new one resembles in structure, was constructed in the second half of the fourteenth century and covered in Visconti times, substituting, in turn, a previous Roman bridge. Unlike the current bridge, the old bridge displayed seven arches and towers with drawbridges at its extremities. Of the old Medieval bridge, and that of the more ancient Roman one, a few ruins can be seen further upstream in respect to the current bridge.


City of Art, History and Merchants

Already in the Roman Period there was a bridge connecting the two banks of the river in the same place of the modern Covered Bridge. Some bases of this bridge remain, easily visible in the dryness periods. In the 1351 a new bridge, designed by Giovanni da Ferrera and Jacopo da Cozzo, was built on the ruins of the Roman one. The bombings in September 1944 damaged the structure and demolished an arch. In February 1948 the Ministry of Public Works demolished with dynamite the ancient artefact. In 1949 he began the construction of the new bridge, which was inaugurated in 1951. Above the entrance portal to the city there is an epigraph that says: "On the ancient gate of cerulean Ticino, in the image of the ancient Covered Bridge destroyed by the fury of the war, the Italian Republic rebuilt it".



The Covered Bridge



In the year 999 Pavia had no bridge over the Ticino.

The old Roman bridge, of which the remains are still visible today on the bank of the river, had collapsed; therefore, who wanted to switch from one bank to the other, had to use the ferry.

On the evening of Christmas Eve of that year, many pilgrims had planned to go to the village to listen the midnight Mass in the city.

So, on the right bank there was a crowd of people ready to the ferry, but the three service boats, a bit for the dark, a bit for the confusion, a little because it seemed that the devil put his tail, work was not satisfactory.

For greater misfortune arose a very thick fog, so as the pilgrims called . . no boat appeared.

At that moment he arrived, no one knows where, a gentleman dressed in red, who began to give themselves a lot of trouble. He would have thought to pass all if they decided to follow him. In fact, after being driven into the fog thickened more and more, he showed the pilgrims, amazed, the shadow of a bridge that seemed to be made of mist still more compact.

And he said, "See? This bridge will become stone, if the first being that it will be mine forever."

All were astonished, because, in the words and fiery-looking gentleman, who knew that he had spoken, it was the devil himself. The bridge was made of fog and you could not use it that by accepting the terms. Among those present came forward a man that no one had noticed before. It was the Archangel Michael, from the nearby church, he had seen and was rushed!

He walked toward the devil and said: "Dear Belzebù, we want a little time to think: you begin to do the stone bridge and then you'll keep the first one that will pass."

The devil agreed, and made ​​the bridge, was placed on the central pier to wait for the first passerby. The angel then sent for a goat, grabbed it by the collar, and, with a burst, forced it to go first.

Taken by anger at being duped, the devil unleashed a violent storm. Rain, wind, whirlwinds and lightning, crashed down on the bridge, but nothing could against the strength of the arches and against the heavy stone columns.

The inhabitants of Pavia, because the hell  is very far away, built on the large pylon in the middle, a church dedicated to the saint of the rivers, Giovanni Nepomuceno.

Today, foggy days, those who went to look away from the bridge, can see what they saw, for the first time, looming gray in the fog, those holy pilgrims on the evening of Christmas Eve, 999.



Reigned once in Pavia, an ancient king. A bad day hordes of enemies invaded his lands.

Immediately, the king summoned the army, and at the head of a hundred thousand swords, went against the invaders.

On the borders of the kingdom a great battle took place, during which, the intrepid King, given his wavering, threw himself where was the thickest fray. He slaughter of the enemy, but was mortally wounded. His brave warriors gathered the bleeding and, given the severity of the injury, they decided to return as soon as possible to the capital.

The road was long, and the King, lying on a stretcher made of two spears and a carpet, lay on his back and he watched large and white clouds in the sky.

Finally, the army came to Pavia. The royal procession already crossed the bridge when the king saw the towers of his beloved capital mirrored in the blue water of the river, seemed to perk up and smiled. Than he murmured to his followers: "Stop, I want to stay here”.

He fell inert. The procession stopped and stunned everyone crowded around the dead king.

The Queen, who from the top of a tower had witnessed the arrival of the victorious army but she was caught by an evil omen. Followed by the ladies, he flew to meet her husband.

Come on deck, seeing painted the deepest consternation on the face of those present, understanding what happened and without a gesture, without a cry, the unhappy fell upside down into the arms of the closest to the heart crashed. The soldiers, faithful to the last words of their great king, thought to be buried along with the Queen where he had died. Diverted the course of the river and built in the middle two large tombs of stone. In the first was deposed the King with all the iron of his arms and, in the other, the Queen with all the gold of her jewelry. They had two separate and large tombs.

Once finished, the river, put again in his bed, covering, with the murmur of the water, the two graves.

Under the central arch of the old bridge, in the days of clear water and low, can be seen even today the tomb of the ancient king, and in the next arch, that of the Queen.

The tomb of the King is still intact and by the cracks come out the iron of his weaponry, but the tomb of the Queen is complet open and broken, and legend tells that the jewels scattered in the gravel gave rise to the auriferous sands of Ticino.




The events in pavia

Arte Pubblica - Eventi a Pavia - pavialcentro
Friday 12 May to Tuesday 12 November

Ciclo di conferenze a cura del Direttore artistico Ar.Vi.Ma Silvia Ferrari Lilienau.Nel corso di cinque conferenze si affrontano le declinazioni dell'arte pubblica dagli anni Trent

De Chirico, De Pisis, Carrà. La vita nascosta delle cose - Eventi a Pavia - pavialcentro
Thursday 18 April to Sunday 28 July
Castello Visconteo

Un punto di vista nuovo sulla storia dell'arte.

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