The "Devil's Bridge" at Borgo a Mozzano
Its profile has inspired numerous artists and legends
The bridge at Borgo a Mozzano, called "The Devil's Bridge" or the "Maddalena Bridge," is certainly the most beautiful bridge in the province of Lucca, and one of the most suggestive in Italy. Its singular design, with one large arch flanked by three smaller ones, has inspired numerous artists and has caused legends about its construction to flourish. The bridge's slimming profile, which continues to strike its admirers, must have been even more impressive in the past before a dam was built, in the years after the Second World War, which raised the level of the water in the area around the bridge.
According to legend, the bridge was built by Saint Julian who, unable to complete it because of its difficulty, asked the Devil for help, offering him in return the soul of the first living being who crossed the finished bridge. Once the bridge was finished, Saint Julian threw a piece of bread on to the bridge, luring a dog on to it and thereby getting the last laugh on the Devil. There is little historical data about the building of the bridge. Nicolau Tegrimi, in his biography of Castruccio Castracani, attributes the bridge to Matilde di Canossa (1046-1125) and mentions a restoration executed by Castruccio Castracani (1281-1328.) According to the hypothesis of Massimo Betti, during the Castruccio government the minor arches were constructed in stone, replacing previous structures in wood.
This would explain the difference between the major arch and the minor ones, as well as the difference in the slope of the street on the left side of the bridge, which was constructed beginning at the pre-existing arch. In the 16th century the Hermitage of Maddalena was built on the left bank, providing a name for the bridge. In the following centuries the right bank was built up with factories. In 1889 the structure of the bridge, on the Borgo a Mozzano side, was modified to allow for the passage of the train line which runs from Lucca-Aulla. A part of the bridge was demolished and a ramp was built which passes over the train tracks.
Source: Lucca APT