In the sixteenth century, the leading architects of the day (Michelangelo, Palladio, Vignola, Sansovino, and, later, Antonio Da Ponte, Vincenzo Scamozzi and Alvise Boldi) were asked to design a new stone bridge. The commission finally went to Da Ponte, and the bridge was built between 1588 and 1591. Sturdy and powerful, solidly built on wooden piles, it is nonetheless rather heavy and its architectural details clumsy.
Boldly designed, with a single arch span of over 28 metres, it sustains two rows of shops which ascend towards the two large arches that divide the bridge's width into three sections. A walk through the central passage of the bridge, crammed with intriguing little shops, plunges you into the colourful hurly-burly of Venetian commerce, and is an absolute must.