"Lovers locks" to be cut from Roman bridge


(CC-licensed photo by Ela2007)

Rome's Ponte Milvio Bridge is decorated with thousands of padlocks that couples have attached to the structure to signify their love. Now, city workers are taking bolt cutters to the tradition. In 2007, the mayor introduced a fine to punish those caught attaching the locks, but now the city council says rust from the padlocks is damaging the bridge. From BBC News:

The custom is inspired by a book by novelist Federico Moccia in which a couple place a bicycle lock around a lamppost and throw the key into the Tiber.

The gesture was meant to symbolise the couple eternally locking their hearts together.

It took off and clusters of padlocks can be found near other landmarks in other Italian cities.

"Rome's Ponte Milvio bridge: 'Padlocks of love' removed"


        1. There’s this thing called Wikipedia that you may want to look into. (The rust is coming from the padlocks, not from structural elements of the bridge.) 

          1.  If you look at the supplied picture, it will show the bridge is constructed of steel girders, which makes one question the historical value of the bridge. It might have an emotional value, and the locks might cause a maintenance problem, but is it really a historical landmark if it’s been torn down and rebuilt, and the most previous time was with very modern techniques?

            Another commentor has said that the value is that there has been a bridge in the same place for quite a number of generations, but doesn’t tearing something down and rebuilding it significantly reduce the historical value?

            Also, it’s usually considered polite to actually link to resources that you’re citing.

      1. “3. heroic; majestic; impressively great”

        Yup, I’ll take ‘impressively great’.

        Incidentally, for those under 40 that’s all it means, and I will not get off your lawn.

  1. I understand them needing to take them off the bridge, but if I were them, I’d designate another place nearby to put the locks.   That way, they wouldn’t disrupt the tradition the people (and maybe tourists,too) love, and wouldn’t have to worry about the bridge.  They could put up a big fence with lots of places for the locks, possibly even designed better for it than a bridge designed to be a bridge, and make a big deal about it, so that it could be a bit of a landmark and a destination for visitors on its own.  

  2. Instead of just cutting off the locks, they should make a reality-show out of it. “Top Picks” – two teams of lockpickers compete for the fastest time to pick five locks each. Points for quickness and complexity of locks.

    1. I agree… bolt cutters are BRUTAL. There are ninjas in the Netherlands who could probably clear that entire bridge in an afternoon with a rusty street sweeper bristle and a cooler of beer.

      I’d play your game just for the trophy locks.  They appear to be mostly crap in the photo, but I see a few real gems in there.

  3. Recently I was in Paris and walked over the bridge with love padlocks there, near Notre Dame Cathedral. It seems as though they remove them every few years or something because each one I looked at was from 2011 or 2012. 

    1. I was just in Prague and they do it there too. I think it’s quite sweet. Yeah, they cut them off periodically. I didn’t know where the fad originated.

    1. The bridge shown above is the railway/pedestrian bridge in Cologne.  Last time I was there we speculated how much the locks weighed, and whether it was a problem.  We decided it was no problem at all, since the bridge was designed to carry 6(?) tracks of railway: the extra weight is hardly noticeable.

      The bridge in Rome is a different matter, however.

  4. “The BBC’s Rome correspondent, Alan Johnston, says .. the writer behind the trend has said the locks ought to be left alone.”

    I will not accept responsibility.

  5. Even though I can understand the romantic symbol, I personally find those locks very annoying on the Pont des Arts in Paris, because they make this very beautiful and old bridge look completely cheap and hippy, and I’m glad city officials don’t approve either…

  6. I think it’s not only not cheap and hippy as gmk1 says. It’s downright dangerous. If each lock weighs 300/400gr… how much would a thousand weigh? What about two thousand? I seem to recall that the last time they took the locks out of El puente de Triana in Seville they took almost a ton of material off there.

  7. also in Rome, up at cafe near the observatory there is a fence keeping you from tumbling down the hill and it too is covered in locks, but instead of cutting them off the maintenance people have simply ignored them and painted right over during the last refresh.    Big blocks of paint hang among newer un-painted-over locks.     Amusing, but not attractive.

  8. Keep in mind that while it has been repaired and modified a number of times, this bridge was originally built over two thousand years ago. It played a part in a number of significant events throughout Roman history. And now parts of it are completely covered in ugly padlocks. The lamppost on the bridge that was one of the earlier targets for the padlocks apparently actually collapsed under the weight in 2007.

  9. I just did a complete 180.  At first I thought it was cute and romantic.  But now that I think about it and look at the pictures, it looks hideous.  When one couple does it, like in the book it’s sweet.  But when everybody does it, it becomes lame.

  10. I was on business in Pecs, Hungary years & years ago, saw this and, thought, kind of cool. 

    Now its like kudzu, spreading everywhere. I work as a guide and my students make it a point to check off the “padlock my name to something” box on their list of things they gotta do.

    At this point, totally inauthentic and a pest.

  11. It seems to me that they could prevent the problem entirely if they used a different type of material to cover the railings. I’d recommend thin metal bars, positioned perpindicular to those walking across the bridge to maintain viewability.  The bars should be wide enough that most padlocks cannot wrap around them. 

  12. They should put out an open call to local artists to submit a proposal to turn those locks into some kind of public art piece. Now about this world peace problem…

  13. A few months ago I was wondering about the padlocks proliferating on bridges in Cologne and Frankfurt. Good to know.

  14. “Darling, our love shall last forever… Or at least until it starts to corrode the structure that supports it and is forceably stamped out by the government.”

    Sounds like every relationship I’ve ever had…

  15. When did this start? I first noticed it on a Magdeburg bridge, then realized it was some sort of new tradition in Cologne. The Magdeburg bridge featured a lock inscribed with a year before the Wall fell, but that must have been back-dated, oder?

    1. It started in 2006. The thing with the locks isn’t an ancient tradition, but the bridge that they’re damaging is genuinely ancient. 

  16. In South Korea they have streamlined the experience. At Seoul Tower you can buy branded padlocks and marker pens on site.

  17. So much quicker to just remove the grid that all of the locks are attached to.  You could even keep the locks on display somewhere then.

    That aside, I know for a fact that there’s a couple of seriously heavy duty locks there so they’re either going to have to cut the grid or use disc cutters instead of bolt cutters.

  18. I walked on the bridge in the picture in Cologne in August, and it isn’t all that covered in locks, but about 60% of it is. Some of the locks are very heavy duty. Someone has also locked an angle-grinder to the bridge (go figure), and there are also a lot of heavy-duty bike locks.

    It makes for great images, but I can take it or leave it.

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