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. Many legends were born from its myterious construction and its singular design, with one large arch flanked by three smaller ones, inspired the works of many artists. 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 surrounding area.
Over 90 meters long, this evocative work presents the classic“ humpback ”structure, which the asymmetrical arches make unique in the world: its major arch, in a central position, reaches a height of over 18 meters. A convex shape, almost cuspid, which makes it a perfectly preserved engineering masterpiece.
According to legend, the bridge was built by Saint Julian who, unable to complete it hard project, asked the Devil for help, offering him in return the soul of the first living being who would have crossed the finished bridge. Once the bridge was finished, Saint Julian threw a piece of bread onto the bridge, luring a dog to cross it, cheating the Devil.
There is little historical information about the building of the bridge. Nicolau Tegrimi, in the biography of Castruccio Castracani, attributes the bridge to Matilde di Canossa (1046-1125) and mentions a restoration made 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 structure in wood. This would explain the difference between the major arch and the minor ones.
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 the passage of the train line which runs from Lucca to Aulla. A part of the bridge was demolished and a ramp was built over the train tracks.