The Origin of Love Locks

Italian romance novelist starts it all...

The modern-day love lock movement (some claim the idea of love locks has been around for hundreds of years) started with a teen-angst romance novel entitled I Want You, penned by Italian author Federico Moccia and published in 2006. In the book two troubled young lovers attach their padlock to the ancient Milvian Bridge (Ponte Milvio, built in 206 BCE) in Rome, then toss the key into the waters of the Tiber. And this signal romantic fictional gesture inspired the "love lock" mania that has since defaced bridges around the world.

Incredibly, Mr. Moccia's "cult handbook" (considering its phenomenal influence) has never been translated into English:


The suave father of the love lock movement, Federico Mocci. You have to give this literary Lothario credit. Even middle-aged American women, some right here in Norfolk, seem to have fallen under his romantic spell:


Mr. Moccia (below, looking a bit more like his everyday self) has cashed in mightily on the trend. Movies even! He has even been an outspoken advocate for allowing love locks to remain on bridges everywhere. He told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that he did not regret spawning the craze: “The padlocks are a symbol of love and something to be proud of. Tourists go to Ponte Milvio to see them, and I’m proud of that. In any case, better a padlock than graffiti disfiguring the walls.”


Better than graffiti? Really? How about graffiti painted over the thicket of padlock graffiti, as here in Paris?


The oh-so-romantic "love lock scene" from the movie made from Moccia's book. "Forever", over his shoulder, like a pinch of salt:


Moccia Admits to Second Thoughts

about "The Scourge of Bridges Worldwide"

Excerpt from Elena Berton, USA Today: The Italian who unwittingly spurred the viral phenomenon of love locks, Rome-based novelist and filmmaker Federico Moccia, is still bemused that a plot device in one of his best-selling novels has gone global.

The two teenage protagonists of Ho Voglia di Te (I Want You), published in 2006 and followed by a movie adaptation a year later, attach a lock to Rome's Milvio Bridge and throw the key into the Tiber River as a sign of eternal love.

The night before its publication, Moccia placed a lock on the third lamppost of the bridge as a surprise to any curious readers who wanted to check whether the love-lock tradition in the novel was real.

"I thought only someone particularly engrossed by the story would have wanted to check," Moccia said. "I went there a week later and there were already 300 locks. They haven't stopped since."

...Moccia, whose blockbuster novels have been translated in several languages but not yet in English, is currently working on a follow-up to I Want You. He admits he would like to come up with another genial plot device that could find its way into real life.

"But I need to think about something that wouldn't create problems like these," he said. "Something that could take the test of time and not threaten any bridges."


Read what a local reviewer of the book has to say

EXCERPT: "Ho Voglia di Te is part of a series of clichéd melodramas about badboy biker Step (short for Stefano) and his posh girlfriends. Think Grease + pizza. When author Federico Moccia shopped the first novel in this series with publishers in 1992, there was little interest, and only a small edition was printed. During the late 90s, however, it gained a wide underground following. The book became scarce, and Xeroxes circulated in Italian high schools.

"By 2004, publishers acknowledged that something about Moccia’s teenage characters was striking a chord with young people. They re-issued the novel, sequels followed, and all were immediately adapted into blockbuster films. In the role of Step, actor Riccardo Scamarcio instantly became Italy’s biggest heartthrob.

"Between the predictable pages of motorcycle races and tagging overpasses, Moccia’s young lovers manage to accomplish one original act: affixing a padlock to the Ponte Milvio. Real-life Roman teens imitated this fictional declaration of devotion, and the practice soon spread to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, the Pont des Arts in Paris, and beyond. Garlands of lucchetti now sprawl like an invasive metallic moss across prominent bridges throughout Europe, adored by romantics and despised by architectural purists."


Oops, enough is enough!

Rome, Paris, Venice, Florence, Moscow, and many other cities have finally had enough. Here a smiling city worker removes padlocks from the Ponte Milvio in Rome — where Federico Moccia's romantic dream began. Roman onlookers seem pleased and relieved to see their famous old bridge liberated from the locks:


A bridge in Paris, where citizens have also been trying to get rid of these "tourist droppings":


Just stop it!








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