San Giorgio Bridge

Ponte di San Giorgio - which split in half the waterway made up downstream, of the Ponte dei Mulini dam - was built out of wood around 1198-1199 as part of the reclamation operations actuated by the hydraulic engineer Alberto Pitentino, who transformed the swampy environment around Mantua into a complex system of lakes used for defensive purposes and to prevent flooding.
Towards the end of the Fourteenth century, the structure was reorganised and built in masonry, probably by will of Ludovico I Gonzaga.
It was then covered in 1417, as indicated on an inscribed stone kept at the Museo di Palazzo Ducale.
This structure is visible in the painting of the Death of the Virgin, painted around 1460 for the Chapel in Ludovico II Gonzaga's Castle.
In this painting - currently kept at the Museo del Prado in Madrid - through a window in the wall behind the main scene, one can also see the defensive system of the San Giorgio hamlet, with the Rock of the same name and the nearby street, the Eastern entrance to the city.
Further testimony is provided by the painting by Francesco Borgani in about 1618, depicting Saint Francis interceding with Mary, to whom he entrusts the city of the Gonzagas, which is visible beyond the covered bridge of San Giorgio.
The painting is kept at the Museo di Palazzo Ducale in Mantua.
The covering on the bridge was demolished in 1634, as a result of the damage caused in 1630 by attacks from the Landsknechts, who entered through Porta di San Giorgio to begin their sack of the city, which lasted three days.
At the end of the Seventeenth century, the bridge was refurbished.
Again, refurbishment was necessary after the damage caused in 1945 by the occupying troops as they retreated.
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