In Rome, a New Ritual on an Old Bridge

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From The New York Times
By Ian Fisher

ROME, Aug. 5 — Love, in all its splendor and mess, found a fit expression on Rome’s oldest bridge last year. Inspired by a best-selling book, then the movie version, young couples wrote their names on a padlock. They chained their locks around lampposts on Ponte Milvio. Then they symbolically cut off escape by tossing the keys into the wine-dark Tiber below.

Locks and keys are for sale on Ponte Milvio, where couples write their names on the locks and then throw the keys into the river.

But reality quickly set in, as it often does after passion. Thousands of locks and chains piled up. The lamps atop two light posts crumbled under the weight. Neighbors complained of vandalism. Politicians who tried to solve the problem were accused — and this is bad in Italy — of being anti-love.

Late last month, a solution was put into place. City officials set up six sets of steel posts with chains on the bridge, so now lovers can declare themselves without damage to the infrastructure. And so this city of monuments has just created another one, if at a cost: tossing a key off Ponte Milvio, some Italians complain, may soon be as touristy as flipping a coin into the Trevi Fountain.

Tango’s Take

Ah yes, symbolism. “This lock symbolizes our eternal love. And just as I pitch this key into the mighty Tiber, know you that I shall forever care for thou.” It sounds a little like the symbolism of a wedding ring, a circle with no beginning or end.
It’s amazing that the bridge became a political football and that someone who only wanted to save Rome’s oldest bridge was accused of being ‘anti-love.’
We’re glad that they saved this great tradition. Maybe they can figure out a way of keeping the reckless teenagers and graffiti off of the bridge. Really old monuments have a way of not keeping up with the destructive habits of modern recreationalists and tourists.

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