If we were to make a list with all the Devil's Bridges scattered around the world, we would surely lose count!
This designation is traditionally used to refer to a particular type of bridge that, at first glance, seems impossible to keep standing, due to its precarious location. Bridges like this do not look like works that man can build alone, they seem, rather, to be the result of a pact made with the devil!
One of these striking architectural examples is in Civita, a small municipality in the province of Cosenza, in the Pollino National Park. The village, now an Orange Flag town, was already inhabited in Roman times and its ancient name was Castrum Sancti Salvatoris, was called Civita around 1500, by the exiles from Albania who settled here and still populate the city today, forming the linguistic minority Arbëresh.
Today, the Devil's Bridge is somewhat of a symbol of Civita and has always attracted travellers and tourists, eager to see it up close.
According to the latest hypothesis, the construction of this bridge dates back to the Middle Ages, although it was actually built over a pre-existing bridge from Roman times, used to cross the Raganello river.
But what does the Devil's Bridge in Civita look like?
The Devil's Bridge in Civita is made of stone, has the typical 'donkeyback' arch and is 260 metres above the Raganello River. Indeed, the bridge stands on a rather impassable stretch and, observed from afar, it almost appears to be hovering over the river below. Yet at the same time it seems to stand incredibly tall!
This remarkable piece of engineering, precisely because of the characteristics we have analysed, has always tickled the popular imagination, according to which it could not be the work of man, but of devils!
According to legend, it was a local landowner who wanted the bridge built: it would have been easier for him to cross the river. Realising that the construction work was ambitious, not to say impossible, he invoked the Devil himself, asking him to build a bridge over the indicated stretch: he would then receive in exchange the soul of the first passer-by along the new bridge. The Devil accepted the pact and within a single night, when a terrible storm was brewing, he built the bridge.
All that was left to do was to wait for the first passer-by to get his soul!
But the landowner made one of his sheep cross the bridge, tricking the devil who then attempted to destroy his own work. However, the architecture was too strong and the devil had no choice but to leave, sinking into a cloud of smoke.
Ironically, on the evening of 28 March 1998, the bridge collapsed due to a heavy thunderstorm; several years of painstaking and precise work were needed to rebuild the bridge on the model of the original structure, which was inaugurated on 25 January 2005.
Studies of archive documents also revealed that the bridge had already collapsed in 1840. It was then rebuilt at the behest of the surrounding municipalities, for whom the bridge over the Raganello was of great strategic and logistical importance!