This is the oldest and most impressive of the bridges of Florence, and perhaps it is the most famous bridge in Italy. It existed before the year 100 even, and was reconstructed in 1345 and, unlike the other bridges, was not destroyed in 1944 by the Germans.
They did, however, destroy everything around the bridge in order to impede the advance of the Anglo-American troops.
Porticoes and arcades grew up along the bridge over time and these were turned into small shops which, under the Grand Duke Ferdinand I, became goldsmiths' workshops. After this change, there was another and this helps set this bridge apart from others. In 1564 Giorgio Vasari constructed his famous Corridor and he made it pass over the top and so unite Palazzo Vecchio with another noble residence, Palazzo Pitti, so that the Grand Duke could move from one building to another without having to descend to street level.
From the arcades under the Corridor, you can have magnificent views of the city and the nearby hills. The view from the upriver side is stupendous, where you see the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte and the Belvedere Fort at the same time.