A pop cultural phenomenon that has turned an Italian bridge into a locksmith’s paradise has jumped across the Atlantic and is threatening to cover the Brooklyn Bridge in lovers’ padlocks.
The tradition of securing a symbol of amore to a bridge — and tossing the keys into the river below — dates back to a 1992 book by sugary Italian novelist Federico Moccia, but the tradition didn’t take off until the movie version of “Tre Metri Sopra il Cielo” came out in 2004.
That’s when Roman authorities suddenly had to deal with thousands of lovers clipping all manner of Master, Kryptonite and Medco locks to the Ponte Milvio — and throwing the keys into the muddy Tiber. Well, guess what, Brooklynites: the tradition is here.
The good news is that the locks haven’t quite caught on to an extreme, but there are dozens of them fastened to benches, supports, pillars and extraneous pieces of metal. Most of the locks have dates on them, plus the names of the lovers who swore their undying faithfulness.
As romantic as they are, the locks are definitely against the rules. A sign on both ends of the pedestrian walkway reads, “Attachment of any sorts to this bridge structure shall not be allowed.”
It’s still unclear how vigilant the city is about enforcing that law, however. Some locks that date back to 2007 suggest that the Department of Transportation doesn’t mind a little testamento d’amore on the bridge, but department officials said they do remove the locks when they see them. Those officials wouldn’t confirm their stance on love.
On Monday, some photo-happy European tourists said that they hope that the symbols of affection can turn the Roman tradition into a New York one.
“The locks show a couple’s bond,” said Matjin Zoomers, from Amsterdam. “Why would you want to take them away? They’re not hurting anybody.”
Perhaps, but Italians have gotten a bit sick of the whole thing.
“Every couple that walks on the Ponte Milvio does it, all because of that movie,” said Chiara Fiori, who lives near Rome and was reached on Monday. The locks cover every inch of available fencing on the Ponte Milvio, and now police are ticketing red-handed offenders. In fact, Italian authorities are so fed up with the “childish” act that there’s now a Web site to allow couples to leave a lock, albeit virtually, on the bridge.
Until someone sets up such a Web site here, expect the Department of Transportation to keep making the unkindest cuts.