With an arched structure like it’s lunging towards the shore, the Ponte della Maddalena near the Italian village of Borgo a Mozzano has earned the title of Ponte del Diavolo, or Devil’s Bridge.
Its official name in Italian means the Bridge of Mary Magdalene, yet it’s better known by its more satanic nickname. This likely comes from its staggering shape, a feat of engineering for the 11th century when it was constructed. It spans 131 over the Serchio River and is 60 feet tall at the peak of its highest of the five asymmetrical arches.
One story goes that the Countess Matilde di Canossa commissioned it so she could reach the thermal baths. However, the more popular legend is that the villagers, facing difficulties in completing their complicated bridge, made a pact with the devil to finish its construction. In exchange he would get the soul of the first to cross it (a common devil-building-bridge deal). Supposedly, the clever townspeople sent a dog over first, although it’s unclear if the poor dog then faced eternal damnation or if a frustrated devil just stormed away to try again elsewhere.
Now it’s more a favorite photography spot that river crossing, although it’s recommended that you do. While the legends of the devil are almost definitely that of myth, there’s an unsettling feeling evoked by stepping over those wavering arches.
Know Before You Go
If you are driving to the bridge from the south, watch for commemorative plaques and vestiges of the Gothic Line, the German defensive series of bunkers and casements built across Italy during the Second World War.