Love locks removed from Rome bridge

The thousands of "love locks" that festooned the railings and lampposts of Ponte Milvio bridge in Rome were removed on 10 September, following an order by the city's mayor Gianni Alemanno last December.

The tradition of the “lucchetti” began with Federico Moccia's 1992 story of two lovers "Tre metri sopra il cielo" (Three metres above the sky) which became a best-seller after it was republished in 2004, and was even turned into a film in Spain two years ago. Imitating the book's story, countless young people from Rome and beyond have been coming to the bridge to leave padlocks, inscribed with their names, as symbols of their eternal love. The keys are then thrown into the river Tiber below.

The padlocks' removal was the end of a long-running battle between romantics – who wanted the bridge left as a shrine to love – and the city of Rome whose bid to preserve the historic bridge was led by the president of the local town council Gianni Giacomini. Opponents argue that the combined rust from the locks was causing damage to the bridge, while in 2007 a lamppost collapsed under the weight of the padlocks.

The snipped-off locks have been taken to a warehouse until authorities decide what to do with them. One suggestion being put forward is that they be displayed in a museum, possibly the Luigi Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography in EUR. This idea is unpalatable to Giacomini who said "The Pigorini museum represents 90 per cent of the world's archaeology; I think there is a big difference between rusty iron and other works of art."

The original Ponte Milvio dates back to 206 BC but this was demolished to make way for a new structure in 115 AD. The bridge is best-known as the scene of the battle between Roman emperors Constantine I and Maxentius in the year 312.