The Devil’s Bridge

ImageToday we drove about 20 minutes to Borgo a Mozzano to paint the Ponte della Maddalena, otherwise known as Ponte del Diavolo – the Devil’s Bridge.It spans the Serchio River.

There are a number of “Devil’s Bridges” in Europe with a similar story. This one was built around 1100. The legend is that the builder was distressed because he could not finish the bridge in time. The devil came to him and offered to complete the bridge in one night in return for the soul of the first person who crossed it.

The builder agreed and the villagers were elated to have the bridge ready. The builder told the people not to cross the bridge until sunset while he rode his horse to Lucca to consult a priest about what he had done. The priest advised the builder to go back and send a pig across the bridge. Thus the devil was outsmarted but is still lying in wait for a soul to claim.

The painting class found the bridge devilish on an entirely different level. It was a lesson in learning to draw proportions and we were told that if we could draw this bridge, we can draw anything. So we spent a lot of time working out the lines on paper and recording the reflected image in the water. It was a tiring day as we all chose spots along the wall in the direct sun. Who knew you could wear yourself out drawing a bridge?

I was still tired from yesterday’s trek up and down the hills of Barga so by the end of the day I was dragging. I was the first to pack up because I just had to retreat to the car and sit in the front seat with my head back for a few minutes. Everyone else hung in there and got some color on their paper over some pretty nice drawings.

Packing and loading up was another challenge. All the big drawing boards are heavy and then we have easels, folding chairs and lots of supplies. Getting everyone in the van with all that stuff is a process,,, load the boot, the 3 smallest agile people climb in the far back (we’ve begun calling them “the little ones”)… hand them chairs to squeeze in… fold back seats into place… 3 more people in back with their gear… hand them more chairs to slide in front of their knees…slam the doors shut… hoist me into the front passenger seat and hand me something to hold or balance… and off we go down the narrow mountain roads like bats out of glory.

I’m getting used to the traffic and the rock walls along the mountain roads and the game of “chicken” everyone plays to pass each other in the narrowest spots along the way. But I am surprised that anyone has side car mirrors that are intact because there are often only inches to spare. If you had your hand on one while riding you’d surely lose your fingers at some point.

So that was our third full class day and tomorrow is a free day. The others are all leaving in the early morning to go to Lucca for shopping and lunch. But since I will be visitng Lucca in the near future, I am staying here to paint in the studio. I can’t wait to just hang out in there and spend a day painting on my own. The Italian dream continues…

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ellyn
    Sep 22, 2012 @ 19:34:50

    That is one wicked looking bridge! I can’t brlieve it was biult in the 1100s and is still holding up. I guess they knew how to build things to last back then.


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