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Q: During a recent trip to Florence, Italy, I saw many padlocks affixed to poles on the sides of the famed Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, that crosses the Arno River. Some had writing, dates and names. They were all clustered together. What’s up with that?

A: Well, we don’t have an exact date for you, but an owner of a local jewelry shop on the bridge said the tradition started years ago by young Italian military men who, after having completed their obligatory military service in Florence, started a tradition of affixing the locks from their barracks’ lockers to the bridge as one last hail and farewell to the city before they returned home.

The practice has grown, and today, lovers professing their devotion to one another use the locks as a symbol of their, umm, secured love, and toss the keys into the river, thus becoming eternally bonded. (Don’t roll your eyes. It can happen.)

But don’t put a padlock on the railing around the bust of Benvenuto Cellini, the Renaissance-era artist — doing so can cost you a 50-euro fine.

Got a question about goings-on Europe? E-mail Stripes at: news@estripes.osd.mil

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