Ruined in 1117 and later reconstructed, it was destroyed again in 1333 by flooding and rebuilt once again in 1345, perhaps by Neri di Fioravante, but this time in stone making it very solid.
Due to the enourmous amount of traffic crossing over the bridge, the more enterprising decided to set up shop on the bridge itself. The first merchants consisted primarily of blacksmiths, butchers, and tanners catering mostly to travelling soldiers not surprisingly. When half of the population perished with the Black Plague in 1348 those who survived began to question their old ways of living.
Shortly after this period the Medici family moved into Florence bringing with them vast wealth as appreciation for the finer things in life. When they acknowledged the use of the Arno by the merchants led to a grave degree of pollution of its waters, they decided to take action by replacing them with goldsmiths and artists and soon the number of shops greatly increased. Eventually between the years of 1565 and 1800 an upper level, as well as a back row of shops, was added which crosses the bridge and connects Uffizi Gallery with Palazzo Pitti.
Florence grew rapidly due to this increase of trade not to mention structure and strength given to the bridge. Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge which survived the perils of WWII and the massive flood of 1966 which wiped out the shops on the bridge but whose roaring waters were not enough to crumble the strength of the bridge itself. A precious piece of architecture as well as history making Ponte Vecchio an enchanting site for all those who visit it.