Locked Out of Heaven

Near where I live is Ponte Milvio, Rome’s oldest bridge.  First built in 206 B.C., the bridge has always been a site of interest.  According to Tacitus, the first century Roman historian and statesman, it was ‘famous for its nocturnal attractions,’ and was where the Emperor Nero conducted his debaucheries.  In 312, Constantine, the first emperor to convert to Christianity, defeated his rival Maxentius at the Battle of Ponte Milvio.

Today Ponte Milvio is better known as a symbol of love.  In 2006, Federico Moccia wrote I Want You, a story of young lovers in the north of Rome.  The hero tells his love interest of an old legend: if lovers wrap a chain around a lamppost on Ponte Milvio, lock it with a padlock and throw the key into the Tiber, then they will never leave each other.

It’s a beautiful story but one that was simply invented for the book.  The book and subsequent film were a big success, leading to life imitating art.  Thousands of young lovers flock to attach their love locks, inscribed with their names and the date, onto the bridge.

What if you visit and decide on a whim that you’d like to make a gesture of love but haven’t brought a lock with you?  Don’t worry – there’s usually a couple of vendors on the bridge who will sell you a lock for about €5; you can even buy a nice, heart shaped lock.

The weight of all these locks endangers the bridge’s delicate stonework and caused two lampposts to almost collapse.  Steel bars were installed along the bridge as official sites for the love tokens in an attempt to stop lovers attaching their locks to the lampposts.  It didn’t seem to make much difference so now they’ve been taken down and, instead, the city council regularly removes the locks from the lampposts.

So you may think your lock is a touching emblem of your everlasting love, but it just ends up at the city dump.  Who says romance is dead??

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35 thoughts on “Locked Out of Heaven”

  1. Call me whatever you like but the locks really annoy me. In Rome, Florence,Venice…they look awful and as you said ‘endanger the bridges delicate stonework’ much better to spend 5€ on a cocktail and drink to your loved ones health 😉

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        1. Better than getting matching, homemade tattoos – which is what my first boyfriend actually wanted us to have. He did his but, strangely enough, I didn’t get around to mine… 😉

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  2. Padlocks are so unoriginal. I’d be interested to know how many of the padlock couples are still together now 🙂 I used to buy PF socks – he thought of me every time he did up his shoe-laces. romantic, huh?
    Rugby-Boy spent a week in Rome recently, but he didn’t see this bridge. He ended up staying with a couple who fed him tinned pasta on disposable plates. Please tell me that it was a dream and that real Italians don’t do that… ?

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    1. I don’t really rate the food here but I have NEVER had tinned pasta!! However, disposable plates are extremely common (both meanings 😉 ) and we often eat off them at friends’ houses.

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      1. The French don’t do disposable plates 🙂 The poor kid was stumped, and was even given sandwiches containing the lettuce (cooked in vinaigrette dressing) from the night before. He survived on Oreo cookies, and was actually happy to come home to his English mother’s offerings. Speaks volumes. 😀

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        1. I’m stumped by the sandwiches made with old lettuce…most of the Italians I know don’t even eat sandwiches! Fortunately, Oreos are freely available here. As are McVities Chocolate Digestives – thank goodness!!

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    1. Probably because I actually think they’re quite sweet! I suggested to my husband that we do this for our anniversary but he said he could improve on the idea: instead of a padlock, he could use handcuffs and leave me there too!

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    1. I guess it depends when you attach your lock – if you did it the day before they cleared the bridge, your love would only last a day…actually, that would have been long enough for some of my previous boyfriends 😉

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  3. Attaching padlocks to bridges seems to be a “thing” now. Aren’t you supposed to throw the keys in the river as well? Poor river… full of rusty padlock keys! (My boyfriend woud never let me do this either… probably scared that our padlock might get left on there for years and years).

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  4. Haha! I actually met all of your previous boyfriends! As, you, mine! Perhaps Gary padlocked a bridge in Italy as I’ve ended up back with him! My first! Lol xx

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    1. That’s a worry if old boyfriends can attach a padlock with your name on and you inexplicably get drawn back to them! I wonder if I do one with my name and National Lottery entwined, will I be drawn to the big prize??? Almost worth a go 😉

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  5. That’s hilarious to my cynical old self 😉 It must be amazing to live amongst so much… ancientness. I remember visiting Rome years ago, and being so taken with the idea that the Coliseum is a structure that’s older than my country.

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    1. It is amazing how quickly you get used to it and hardly even notice all the fantastic Roman ruins anymore. That’s when we need visitors so we can see it afresh through their eyes!

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