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Leopoldo II Bridge

The bridge Leopoldo II, better known as Manetti bridge, was built in 1833 by the architect Alessandro Manetti.
It is the second suspension bridge built in Italy and the first of its kind in Tuscany. It was made with an innovative technique of cables or ropes of wound iron wires, already tested in France and destined to be used in numerous other engineering works up to the present day.
The designer Alessandro Manetti, son of the architect Giuseppe Manetti, after various experiences in Paris, directed important works for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in the field of reclamation, hydraulic works and roads.
The primary function of the bridge was to connect the Grand Ducal estates on the right bank, dominated by the Medici Villa in Poggio a Caiano, with those on the left bank, organized around the building of the Cascine di Tavola. Carriageable and with two raised sidewalks, it had a wooden structure suspended by 12 iron wire ropes resting on arch-shaped stone pylons and anchored on retaining boulders called "crowns". The structure lost its functionality in the first post-war period and, while still standing, it was necessary to forbid access. Its definitive end dates back to 1944, when the retreating German army blew up the remains of the bridge - like many of the structures on the Arno river and its tributaries. Since then, until its reconstruction, only the stone pillars and two of the "crowns" remained.
After about a century and a careful restoration - co-financed by the Municipalities of Prato and Poggio a Caiano, the Province of Prato and the Tuscan Region - from September 2019 the bridge connects again the two sides of the Ombrone river with a walkway and a cycle-pedestrian path, definitively rejoining the Medici naturalistic environmental system: the Cascine di Tavola in the Municipality of Prato with the Bargo Park in Poggio a Caiano.

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