The Tiber: the river of Rome

With its 405 km, the Tiber is the third longest river in Italy (after the Po and the Adige) and from its source located on Mount Fumaiolo at 1268 meters above sea level. it flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea, between Ostia and Fiumicino, after crossing Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio and 7 provinces, including Perugia and Rome.

The Tiber has always been the soul of Rome.
It was, in fact, along the banks of this river, near the present Foro Boario, that, according to the legend about the birth of Rome, the basket containing the Romulus and Remus buds was abandoned.
It was then the She-wolf who, hearing their cries, reached them, warmed them and gave them her milk and then the shepherd Faustole who took them and took them to his house where he raised them with his wife.

Over time, the Tiber was used as a border and bulwark against Etruscan enemies by the first Roman peoples who settled in the valley below the Palatine and then as a means of communication, with boats of all kinds that transported most of the materials with which the Imperial Rome.

The Bridges

The first bridge in Rome was the Pons Sublicius , built entirely of wood, just downstream from the Tiber Island. For the archaic populations, this bridge and its maintenance were so important that the most ancient and powerful Roman priesthood was born in relation to them: the Pontifex .

Until the fall of the Papal State there were four city bridges over the Tiber: Ponte Milvio, Ponte di Castello, Ponte Sisto and the two bridges across the Tiber island, Ponte Cestio and Ponte dei Quattro Capi.

Ponte Milvio it was called Ponte mollo because during the floods of the Tiber it is the first to be submerged. Being initially made of wood, and rebuilt in masonry by the censor Marco Emilio Scauro in 110-109 BC, it is probably the most important bridge due to the famous Battle of Ponte Milvio , of 28 October 312, when the victory Constantine put an end to the reign of Maxentius and marked the beginning of a new era for the empire with the adoption of Christianity as the official religion.

Ponte Sant’Angelo or Ponte Castello is probably the most beautiful and most photographed bridge in Rome with Castel Sant’Angelo overlooking the Tiber and St. Peter’s Basilica in the background.
It was built by Hadrian in 134 to connect his mausoleum to the left bank of the Tiber.

The first brick bridge in Rome is however the characteristic Ponte Rotto , just beyond the Tiber Island, built by the consul M. Emilio Lepido in 179 BC.
After a series of damages suffered due to floods of the river (1230 and 1420) and floods (1557), the great flood of 1598 made three of the six arches disappear and the bridge was no longer rebuilt, assuming its present shape and the name of Broken Bridge.




Connected to the two banks of the Tiber by the Ponte Cestio and Ponte Fabricio, the Tiber Island is the only urban island of the Tiber.
It had the shape of a ship, the prow of which is still visible today, with blocks of travertine lining the interior, with an obelisk in the center depicting a symbolic mast, and some decorations depicting Aesculapius, god of medicine, whose cult was introduced in 292 BC following a pestilence.
This form is in memory of a legend according to which, after a serious plague, some sages went to Epidaurus (in Greece) to consult the divinity. a snake, symbol of the god, left the temple ad and got on the ship, and once it reached Rome the same animal descended on the island and settled there; after the construction of a temple dedicated to the god, it is said that the plague miraculously vanished.
The Temple of Aesculapius was inaugurated in 289 BC. and stood in the southern part of the island, in the place now occupied by the church of San Bartolomeo.

In front of the basilica of San Bartolomeo, there is the Fatebenefratelli hospital, founded by the followers of San Giovanni di Dio in 1583, and later modernized by Cesare Bazzani between 1930 and 1934.

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