Historic bridges in Ascoli Piceno: The bridge in Porta Solestà
The Porta Solestà bridge in Ascoli Piceno is truly among the most interesting and best-preserved bridges that Romans erected throughout their Empire. The bridge was ordered by Emperor Augustus to connect the two banks of the Tronto River and more generally the two Roman provinces of Ascoli and Fermo. The project was part of his Empire renovation policy, including, among other things, the implementation of a dense and well-maintained road network.
The road surface length reaches 62 meters while the width is 6.50 meters, allowing wagons to cross each other. The technique used is the “Opus quadratum” entirely made of travertine. The large stone blocks are neatly placed one on top of the other so as the point of adhesion between one and the other lies on the block below. Therefore the structure was “dry” built without using mortar.
The great arch is over 22 meters wide, a sign of great Roman engineering skills. Restoration and consolidation work followed in 1929-30 and 1937-38.For this reason, the bridge was emptied, and the infill material (soil, river stones, rubble) was used to sustain the Roman road surface and fill its potholes. A reinforced concrete walkway that fulfills the function of supporting the structure, and withstanding car traffic vibrations, has been created inside. We must not forget that the bridge use never stopped, presuming that the road has been traveled since forever, from the Roman to Middle Age, from Renaissance until today.
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AUTHOR: Lella Palumbi, expert in art history