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Ponte della Pia

Ponte della Pia

The Ponte della Pia bridge over the Rosia stream in the municipality of Sovicille, Tuscany

Ponte della Pia over the Rosia stream in Tuscany
Ponte della Pia over the Rosia stream in Tuscany




Ponte della Pia is a bridge of Roman origin, rebuilt in mediaeval times, which is accessed in a heavily wooded area from the SS73 near the town of Rosia in the municipality of Sovicille, in Tuscany. It was the only bridge spared from the German demolition in the Padule di Stigliano in 1944, and was therefore used by the allied troops.

The bridge consists of a single arch, the current structure of which dates back to the early 13 C. It connects the two banks of the Rosia stream and in the past played an important role along the route of the ancient Via Massetana that connected Sienna to the Maremma, and in particular to the Metalliferous Hills and Massa Marittima, hence the name of the road.

Across the bridge from the main road on the other side of the gorge where the torrent flows, you will find the remains of a Mediaeval road, called “Manliana”, rebuilt during the 15 C, passing through the forest to the Hermitage of Santa Lucia in Rosia, about 500 m away from the bridge.

According to tradition, possibly originating from the first Florentine commentators on Dante Alighieri, the name of the Ponte della Pia derives from a mysterious character called Pia in Canto V of the Purgatorio (130-136) in the Divine Comedy. This young Siennese aristocrat, who claimed to be a Tolomei, and whose fate, certainly bloody, was still a subject of scandalous speculation in Dante’s time, is connected with Nello d’Inghiramo Pannocchieschi, owner of Castel di Pietra. In order to marry Margherita Aldobrandeschi, he, clearly linked to Sienna, as his will shows, was said to have thrown our Pia off a cliff called “the leap of the countess” at his castle in Maremma. However, there is no real evidence for this thesis despite the fact that it was believed as recently as the 19 C, when commentators attempted to identify the protagonist as Pia Guastelloni, the widow, from 1290, of Baldo d’Aldobrandino dei Tolomei.

In reality Pia was a member of the Malavolti family married to Tollo, the lord of Prata, and a small vassal of the Aldobrandeschi, perhaps to cement a bond with Sienna, which aimed and later succeeded to expand into the Maremma. Tollo was murdered by his three nephews in 1285 in the churchyard upon leaving after Mass, thereby destroying the Siennese plans, and thus also sealing the fate of his wife.

An ancient legend, both in Maremma and in this part of Tuscany, has the ghost of Pia de’ Tolomei appearing on the bridge on nights of the full moon, dressed completely in white and crossing the bridge without touching the ground.

Aside from the Hermitage of Rosia, which can be reached on foot along the forest track across the Ponte della Pia, another worthwhile and highly photogenic sight nearby is the Monastery of Lecceto.

More about Ponte della Pia.

Ponte della Pia near Sovicille, Tuscany
Ponte della Pia near Sovicille, Tuscany