Two previous incarnations of the bridge were swept away in floods before the present structure was built in 1345, with a tower being constructed at the southeast corner to defend it. Consisting of three segmental arches, the bridge had shops lining the central passageway, which was a common feature during the Renaissance.
When the Medici family bought the Palazzo Pitti in 1549, the interior of the bridge's upper levels was redesigned. The new plans included a secret walkway crossing the bridge, serving as a link in a series of tunnels built by the Medici so they could travel from the Palazzo Pitti to the Palazzo della Signoria undetected.
In 1476, the bridge was the site of a large street fight between the friends of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, and of Vieri de' Pazzi, who had recently developed a strong rivalry over the issues involving their fathers.
Bonfire of the Vanities
In 1498, the bridge was blockaded by the Condottiero, one of the lieutenants of Girolamo Savonarola, who demanded payment for passage. However, the Condottiero was later killed by the Assassin Ezio Auditore.