VENICE.- Venice's famous Bridge of Sighs is to be restored over the next three years, authorities announced on Wednesday.
Workers have begun assembling scaffolding which should be in place by September, allowing experts to assess the damage to the famed monument and the facades of the buildings it links, the Ducal Palace and the one-time prison of the Doges, reported Italian news agency ANSA.
The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. It was designed by Antoni Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge), and built between 1600 and 1603.
The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron in the 19th century, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice out the window before being taken down to their cells. In reality, the days of inquisitions and summary executions were over by the time the bridge was built, and the cells under the palace roof were occupied mostly by small-time criminals.
A local legend says that lovers will be assured eternal love if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the bridge. This legend played a key part in the 1979 film A Little Romance.