South of Pavia two of the main rivers of the North of Italy, the Ticino and the Po, merge to continue as the broad Po river that ends in the Adriatic near Venice. You may observe the precise spot where these two waterways meet from your car, driving over the one kilometer long Ponte della Becca or Bridge of the Beak. It is called this way as the form of where the rivers merge resembles a bird’s beak. The iron bridge was completed a century ago and is now one of the major connections to Milan’s wine region, the Oltrepò Pavese that lies, as the name suggests, beyond (oltre) the Po. It was heavily damaged due to bombardments in WWII and reconstructed in 1950.
As both the Ticino and the Po are fed by mountain hinterlands the water level varies much depending on temperature, season and rainfall. At some times the area below the bridge will be one big sheet of water, at other times you’ll notice large banks of sand on which people are sunbathing (swimming in the river is not advisable though as the currents are very treacherous).
Maintenance of the bridge has not been very intense during the last decades unfortunately leading to serious damage to several of the pillars and temporary closures that at one point lasted for months. The bridge is now closed for heavy traffic and there are plans for an entirely new bridge on the same spot that should cost about 50 million euro. But the money is lacking and so we will continue to pass the good old Ponte for quite a while yet.