Monday, March 6, 2023

A fun but non-scary suspension foot bridge in the province of Pistoia

After having crossed the frightening 227-meter long and 120-meter tall swaying Ponte alla Luna in Southern Italy in the fall of 2021, Lucy and I jumped at the chance to cross another narrow pedestrian bridge closer to home this winter. I recently read online about a bridge located about an hour north of Montecarlo, in the comune of San Marcello Piteglio, and we knew right away we had to experience it. The fact that it was free made it even more appealing.

Compared to the Ponte
alla Luna, the Ferriere
is not at all scary.

We had flown into Firenze on Thursday and had a rental car reserved for four days, so there was no time to waste. We left early Saturday morning on a brilliant sunny day, choosing the most winding and scenic route of the three options offered by Google maps. Weaving back and forth on the almost single-wide roads of the Appennini mountains, we passed deep forests of chestnut trees still bare from the winter. We stopped briefly to watch parents and children sledding in a large, sloping field of snow not yet completely melted.

The Lima, as viewed from the bridge.
A few kilometers from San Marcello, we saw a sign directing us to the Ponte Sospeso delle Ferriere, which passes over the Lima river, and we easily found a parking space right next to the entrance. The bridge was only a five-minute walk. Since this is still the low season, we encountered only one other couple on the bridge.

We learned from the interpretive signage that the Ponte Sospeso for many years had been the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Italy. It had been built in the early 1920s not as a tourist attraction but as a way for metal workers to reach their factory more easily, saving them from what otherwise would have been a six-kilometer daily commute. To cross the bridge takes less than 10 minutes, though for us it took 15 minutes, as we paused to enjoy the scenery and take photos.

Looking upstream at the Lima and beyond into the Appennini mountain range.

Though the bridge is 227 meters long and reaches a height of 36 meters (118 feet), it is not frightening to cross—at least not compared to the modern Tibetan-style pedestrian bridges being built in other mountainous areas of Italy as tourist attractions. Its floor is a continuous grid, and the sides are high enough that there is no possibility of falling off. The Ponte alla Luna, on the other hand, has undoubtedly been built to attract tourists not only by its height but also because it seems dangerous (although it really isn’t), with open sides and floor rungs separated by large gaps.

When the Ponte Sospeso was built 100 years ago, it had wooden flooring, but now pretty much every part has been replaced and improved, making it completely safe. It doesn’t even sway very much, so it’s not particularly exciting for thrill seekers. However, the setting and view are very pleasing, and the price is unbeatable.

Chestnut forest in the Appennini.

On the return drive, we couldn’t resist stopping at a bar in Prunetta with the appealing name Crema e Cioccolato. Yum! I had a slice of chocolate and cream pie and a cappuccino, and Lucy enjoyed a chocolate covered donut washed down with a thick and creamy Italian hot chocolate. Literally, la dolce vita!

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