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Hannibal Bridge

Near the marina, the road leading from Rapallo to Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino is topped by an ancient single-arch stone bridge known as ‘Hannibal’s Bridge’. It was given this appellation because it seems likely that, during the Second Punic War, supplies or reinforcements for the troops that would later clash in the famous Battle of the Trebbia (218 B.C.) landed on the coast in the area of Rapallo, which was then a trading port of call.

It seems, however, that this is just a suggestive invention. In fact, there is no evidence that Hannibal, having crossed the Alps in 218 BC, travelled with his army along our coastline, crossing, or even building, this bridge. In all documents, charters, drawings and maps that have come down to us from the distant past, there is no trace of this illustrious personage who would have linked his name to the bridge with its imposing and solid bulk, which has come down to us through the centuries. It is always mentioned together with the watercourse it overlooked (Bolago, Borago, Boatto, Boate) and apparently never fulfilled any other function than that of connecting the Rapallo ‘pagus’ with the ‘vici’ of Pagana, Pescino and Porto Delfino.

The oldest record of the bridge is dated 7th April 1049. This is a donation with which a certain Rainaldo donated to the church of Santa Maria di Castello the goods he owned in Rapallo, including land that certain Guinizio and Dueta held from him in lease ‘around the bridge’ with ten olive and five fig trees.

Then, on 15th September 1300, the notary Corrado de Spignano attests to having drawn up a deed of sale relating to a house in our historical centre located ‘ad pontem de Bolago’ near the garden gate of the heirs of Baldovino de Salvo.

Due to numerous floods, the bridge was repaired and renovated in 1733. Ninety years later, in 1823, when the whole of Liguria had by then been annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia, it was decided to divert the Boate torrent in the final stretch, in order to build a new carriage road to Santa Margherita; this is why today the bridge remains a work to be admired, for its sleek line and ancient stones, but useless, having lost its original function.

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