The other river in Rome

Go with the flow

Reminiscing about walks to Ponte Nomentano while listening to "River of no return" by Ghostdance has pushed this, "The other river in Rome", to the top of my articles-to-do list. It's rarely less than two dozen strong, but none of those proposed nor published feel as close to home as here. I've been wanting to write about Fiume Aniene for a while, simply because in parts, it resembles the humble River Wyre in Lancashire, England, close to the small market town of Garstang where I was raised.

"Teverone" flows down from the small scenic town of Trevi nel Lazio between Subiaco and Frosinone to the Tiber in Rome, a distance of nigh on 100 kilometres. Upper Paleolithic settlers inhabited this area between the regions of Lazio and Abruzzo we distinguish today. It's a river rich in ancient history and natural beauty, the source of many Roman acqueducts in antiquity, sections of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites today.

Most of us who live or have lived in Rome will know Fiume Aniene from day trips to Tivoli, further east to Subiaco and Frosinone, and the Aniene Valley Nature Reserve which covers c. 650 hectares between Via Nomentana and Via Tiburtina in Municipio IV (Pietralata).

Three historic tower bridges span the river at different points. Ponte di San Francesco in Subiaco (single span, medieval segmental arch bridge), was constructed in 1358. Ponte Nomentano (triple span, fortified arch bridge), the best known bridge across Fiume Aniene, was rebuilt on several occasions in the 15th century. Modern Ponte Mammolo boasts ancient origins. By studying Travertine, we know that Ponte Nomentano dates back to the early Augustan period. Destroyed by the Ostrogoths in 547, it was rebuilt a few years later in 552 by Narses.

A fourth historic bridge, Ponte Salario, was closed in 1867 and a replacement built in 1874. Like Ponte Nomentano, the bridge was destroyed in the Gothic Wars by Ostrogothic King Totila, then rebuilt by the barbarians of General Narses during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, who took it upon himself to restore the historic territory of the Roman Empire in the west. Armenian eunuch Narses played a key role in the recapture of Italy for Byzantium. Italy formed the greater part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom between 476 - 535 AD.

The waterfalls at Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli are spectacular. Footpaths make it easy to move down the ravine safely and observe cascading water at arm's length. Ponte Gregoriano spans the Aniene nearby, known for suicides rather than sightseeing in recent years. A hydro-electric power plant was constructed at the Aniene ravine (130 metres) in 1886 which provided Tivoli with electric lighting - a first in Italy.

The late Republican Temple of Vesta in Villa Gregoriana (Acropolis of Tivoli) is the crowning glory of Fiume Aniene, a world away from the quiet course of a river less known in Rome. Tivoli is one of our day trips from Rome tour destinations as part of a small group or with private driver guide. For our top rated private Tivoli tour or small group Tivoli tours, click the link.

Published on August 5th, 2014
© When In Rome Tours, article provided by Cajes.

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