Artículos de 13 Febrero 2008

Love in Rome

Miércoles, 13 Febrero 2008

In Rome, a New Ritual on an Old Bridge

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Locks with lovers’ names on a Rome bridge are a new rite, with some unusual results.

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.

Built in 206 B.C., Ponte Milvio is Rome’s oldest bridge.

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.

 And in the few days since the new posts went up, dozens of new love locks have been sealed shut on Ponte Milvio, in a perfect world, forever. (Though in practice, the city will periodically prune the locks just as they sweep the coins from the Trevi Fountain.) People are also being encouraged to use a Web site,, where they can create virtual padlocks.

The story of how Ponte Milvio, north of Rome’s center, became the city’s symbol of love follows a particularly Italian script blending history, myth, truly ludicrous political posturing and the unexpected.

Built in 206 B.C., the bridge attracted lovers long ago. 

Last year, the writer Federico Moccia created the second installment of a story of young Romans called “I Want You.” Like many affairs, his hero’s starts with a lie: he convinces a potential girlfriend of an invented legend in which lovers wrap a lock and a chain around the third lamppost on the bridge’s northern side, lock it and throw the key into the Tiber.

“And then?” the girl asks.

“We’ll never leave each other,” he says, with no shame.

Mr. Moccia, 44, said he dreamed up the ritual. “I liked the idea of tying locks to love because it is more solid, tangible,” he said. The book sold 1.1 million copies, then the movie came out and soon life began imitating art.

Mr. Moccia said he was stunned when locks and chains appeared on the bridge.

“It is a precise sign of our times — there is a lack of dreaming,” he said. “We only hear bad news. There is no longer the smile of who we see from afar or near the dream. And that gesture of the lock on the bridge, of the feeling of the iron closing, it’s a promise. It’s beautiful.”

Soon beauty turned to menace. Lovers came from all over Italy, joined by some tourists. The ancient bridge, which also attracts not only lovers but drinkers and no small number of pot smokers, began to be covered in lovers’ graffiti, along with the overwhelming number of chains. This spring, the city cracked down.

 (Text adapted from The New York Times)