The Ten Bridges that United Italy

From the Recco bridge rebuilt after World War II to the San Giorgio Bridge in Genoa: a hundred years of great infrastructure.

Bridges are “expressions of the innate desire to connect, to overcome obstacles, to travel towards new horizons.” The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition goes beyond the architectural value, design, or technical planning employed to create perhaps the most fascinating of constructions. The bridge is a union of cultures, offering the possibility of bridging the gap between populations. In a country like Italy, which spans approximately 1,300 km in a straight line, from its northernmost point in the Aurine Alps to its southernmost point in the Swordfish Point on the island of Lampedusa, bridges have represented and continue to represent the key to economic and social development.

Bridges and viaducts have enabled, among other things, the creation of one of the most complex and articulated highway and railway networks in the world, given the geographical and orographic configuration, including mountain ranges, rivers, watercourses, and steep mountain passes. Bridges, of every era and construction technique, number in the hundreds of thousands, some of which have been a fundamental element in uniting the country. Going from North to South, here are ten of the most well-known and technically revolutionary bridges for the nature of the terrain and the adopted solution, built by the Webuild Group.

Santa Giustina Bridge

The reinforced concrete arch structure built in 1959 spans the Noce River on the Trento-Malé railway in Trentino-Alto Adige. For over a decade, it was the world’s tallest railway bridge, standing at 144 meters in height and having a span of 78 meters. It still ranks fifth among the highest railway crossings globally.

Courmayer-Morgex Viaduct

Part of the A5 highway from Aosta to the Mont Blanc Tunnel, completed in 1992. It allows overcoming the last steep ascent in the Aosta Valley highway network, covering a total of 32 km, including tunnels and other viaducts. It is a strategic artery for connecting with France and the rest of Europe.

Pedemontana Lombarda

The first 15 km section was completed in 2015. This new artery between the A8 Milano-Varese and A9 Milano-Como highways will extend approximately 157 km, enhancing the East-West axis along the Corridor 5 of the European Union’s TEN-T network. The Pedemontana will reach Bergamo, improving accessibility to international passes and airports such as Malpensa and Orio al Serio. Other sections are under construction for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Cortina.

Ticino Viaduct

Completed in 2009 as part of the redevelopment of the Italian railway network. It is one of the 51 viaducts on the Turin-Milan line, covering 125 km, including 90 km of embankments, 4 km of trenches, and about 5 km of tunnels. The infrastructure has brought the two cities closer than ever before, thanks to trains traveling at over 300 km/h. The complex of viaducts, bridges, and underpasses reaches a length of 37 km.

Genoa’s San Giorgio Bridge

Built in 2020 in just over a year, despite the pandemic emergency, this bridge over the Polcevera River entered the infrastructure album as a symbol of Italy’s rebirth after the collapse of the old Morandi Bridge. At 1,067 meters long, with 19 spans supported by 18 vertical pillars, the structure represents a model of elegance and innovation, equipped with modern technologies for safety control, road surface cleaning, and continuous monitoring of its operations.

Recco railroad viaduct

The elevated infrastructure crossing the Ligurian town is deeply connected to the history of post-war Italian reconstruction. Built in wood in 1922, the nearly 400-meter viaduct was destroyed during World War II bombings. Reconstructed between 1946 and 1948 in pre-stressed reinforced concrete, used for the first time in Italy, it required 180 tons of cement and 16.4 tons of steel.

The Variante di Valico

Completed in December 2015, it runs through the Apennine section of the Autostrada del Sole (A1) between Sasso Marconi and Barberino di Mugello, covering approximately 59 km across Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. It includes over 10 km of viaducts and 28 km of tunnels, with three lanes (one emergency lane) in each direction. The variant’s symbol is the so-called Base Gallery: a tunnel with separate carriageways approximately 8.6 km long, the fourth-longest highway tunnel in Italy.

The Liscione

An endless viaduct, the longest in Italy, winding its way through Lake Liscione or Lake Gualdialfiera, an artificial reservoir of 1.043 sq km in the heart of Molise. The Liscione Viaduct, with its 5 km length, 88 spans of 34 meters each, and 25 spans of 70 meters, is a unique work. Built between the ’60s and ’70s during the economic boom to reconstruct the country, it remains a valuable connection for mobility in Molise and neighboring regions.

Sfalassà Viaduct

Also known as the Bagnara Bridge, it is part of the Mediterranean Motorway (A2 or former A3, Salerno-Reggio Calabria) and was opened to traffic in 1972. The infrastructure has won the CECM European Award three times, the highest European recognition for major works. With a main span of 376 meters and a sheer drop of 254 meters from the valley floor, it is the second-highest viaduct in Italy, the third in Europe, and among the top 50 in the world. Its unique design places it at the top among the world’s highest thrust arch bridges.

Favazzina Viaduct

A flagship of the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway, the new Favazzina Viaduct is a unique engineering work, with its final section inaugurated in 2013. The bridge, with a curvilinear layout spanning 440 meters and a central span of 220 meters, reaches a height of 150 meters from the valley floor. The construction was particularly complex due to slopes reaching 65°. Its construction, replacing the old viaduct designed in 1974 by Riccardo Morandi, was a fundamental step in improving the safety of the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway, confirming the strategic value of connections to the South.