Ponte Milvio, also referred to as the "Lovers' Bridge" due to the chains of padlocks left hanging on its lampposts by sweethearts wishing to leave a token of their never-ending affection for each other, links the banks of the River Tiber to the north of the city. The bridge was constructed in order to prolong the Via Flaminia, enabling it to reach across the river. It was here that one of the pivotal moments of Roman history was decided: the Battle of the Milvian Bridge on 28th October 312 A.D. Maxentius' unsuccessful stand at the bridge (he himself was forced to retreat and drowned in the river) opened the way for Constantine I to become the sole ruler of the empire, while the battle is also said to be have marked the beginning of the latter's conversion to Christianity.
In 2000s, the bridge began attracting couples, who use a lamppost on the bridge to attach love padlocks as a token of love. The ritual involves the couple locking the padlock to the lamppost, then throwing the key behind them into the Tiber. The ritual was invented by author Federico Moccia for his popular book and movie "I Want You".
After April 13, 2007, couples had to stop this habit because that day the lamppost, due to the weight of all padlocks, partially collapsed. However, couples decided to attach their padlocks elsewhere. In fact, all around the bridge, road posts and even garbage bins have been used to place these love padlocks. As an online replacement, a web site has been created allowing couples to use virtual padlocks. From July 2007, for people in love, it's possible to attach padlocks again thanks to steel columns put by the mayor. Similar Love padlocks traditions have appeared in other places of Italy and Europe. The bridge is also an important meeting venue for young Romans, especially during summer. In fact, from May to July "the bridge", is crowded by hundreds of young boys and girls in summer break after the end of the school. In winter, due to the cold, they normally meet during the weekends in the numerous bars near the bridge for the typical "aperitivo" (happy hour) from 6 to 8 pm. On September 2012 the authorities decided to remove all padlocks by force. There was an increasing risk that the bridge would collapse under the weight
What tourists love
Besides being a favourite spot for nightlifers looking for a "simpatico" bar or other, every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Ponte Milvio also provides the charming setting for an antiques fair. At this "Anticaglie a Ponte Milvio. Il primo mercato dell'antiquariato", a couple of hours may be passed ambling among the 200 stands, browsing through the varied antique pieces, collectors' items which include small picture frames, jewellery, knick-knacks, books of all shapes and sizes.