All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to email@example.com. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Days of Peace
(how to spend a peaceful day in Rome)
to see the Bridges of Rome
In 1876 a law endorsed the construction of walls along the Tiber to prevent it from flooding the City. The walls achieved their objective, but they divided Rome from the river: the harbours of Ripetta and Ripa Grande were closed, the beaches of Regola and Rinella disappeared; the mills, the ferries and the other activities
associated with the river were discontinued.
per Lungo Tevere,
a rubasse li baci a mille
(Vecchia Roma by M. Ruccione).
lovers stopped to hide below the trees of Lungo Tevere to steal thousands of kisses.
In 2003 the City of Rome introduced a boat service which gives an opportunity to Romans and tourists to have a hint at the former close relationship between the city and the Tiber. Boats similar to Paris' bateaux mouches carry guided tours, but there is also a transportation service at the cost of an ordinary bus ticket (1 euro in 2007): this page covers the journey of this line. The narrowness of the river bed and the height of the walls limit the view of the buildings along the river banks, yet the trip offers some interesting views.
The boat starts its journey on the right bank at Lungotevere degli Anguillara, at the site of the very first crossing of the river at Isola Tiberina; the small island is protected by low walls which allow viewing its monuments. In the XIXth century the river bed was enlarged to increase its discharge and two arches were added to Ponte Cestio.
The traditional accesses to Trastevere via the bridges of Isola Tiberina and Ponte Sisto were not adequate to the needs of modern life: for this reason in 1888 a large bridge dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi was built between them: it had an iron structure which in the 1950s was replaced by reinforced-concrete: on that occasion the bridge was significantly enlarged.
The boat then goes through Ponte Sisto and reaches another modern bridge dedicated to Giuseppe Mazzini: it was built in 1904-08, as part of a larger plan to design a grand access to the Janiculum for the 50th anniversary of the Italian Unity (1911). The project was not carried on: it was reconsidered in the 1930s, but work never started. The plan involved pulling down Regina Coeli, a large prison built on the site of a monastery and introducing major changes to the XVIIIth century gardens of Villa Corsini.
The expansion of Rome on the hills behind the Vatican led to the development of a route to link these new quarters with the centre of Rome: Ponte Principe Amedeo and a tunnel under the hill of Sant'Onofrio provided a direct access to Porta Cavalleggeri and from there to the new quarters. The bridge is dedicated to Amedeo di Savoia Aosta (1898-1942), a member of the Royal Family who was Governor of Ethiopia at the start of WWII and vainly tried to defend that territory. The bridge was completed in 1942 shortly after Amedeo's death in a prison camp and it is among the last monuments of the Fascist period.
The next bridge dedicated to King Victor Emmanuel II is described in a section of the Abridged History of Rome.
The most spectacular view of the boat trip is the approach to Castel Sant'Angelo and to the bridge by the same name: usually the boats with the guided tours do not go much beyond the bridge.
The two following bridges were designed by Angelo Vescovali in 1892-95 and 1898-1901; they provided a link between the historical city and Prati, a new development on the meadows outside Porta Castello. They were dedicated to Umberto I, the second king of Italy (1878-1900) and to Count Camillo Benso di Cavour. Ponte Cavour is located on the site of the former Porto di Ripetta.
A third bridge leading to Prati was dedicated to Margherita, King Umberto' wife and the first Queen of Italy. Victor Emmanuel II became the first King of Italy in 1861: he was a widower because his wife Maria Adelaide had died in 1855 giving birth to the couple's eighth child. In 1869 he married Rosa Vercellone, his principal mistress; but because she was a commoner the marriage was a morganatic one and la bela Rusin (beautiful Rose) did not acquire the status of a queen. Margherita, was first cousin of Umberto and their marriage was a love affair: she was a woman of rare beauty. After the assassination of her husband in 1900 she became Queen Mother and went to live in a palace built by the Ludovisi Boncompagni and which is commonly named after her.
The next bridge is the first one to be located outside the historical centre of Rome: the walls are replaced by high banks on both sides of the river. It was built in 1929 and it vaguely resembles Ponte Sisto. It was called Ponte Littorio (a reference to the symbol of Fascism), but after WWII it was dedicated to Giacomo Matteotti, a member of the Italian Parliament who was kidnapped and killed in 1924 for his opposition to Mussolini.
In the 1920s seaplanes were regarded as a viable alternative to ordinary aircraft. The Fascist government promoted their development and some long distance flights: in 1925 Francesco de Pinedo, an Italian aviator flew (in six months) from Rome to Australia, to Tokyo and back to Rome: he landed on the Tiber and the event was celebrated by dedicating an existing (smaller) copy of the lost Porto di Ripetta to him.
After Scalo de Pinedo the landscape tends to become a rural one and curtains of trees hide the buildings; some barges are moored along the river banks; they usually belong to rowing clubs.
Some of the rowing clubs have a membership more interested in social events and business dealings, than in actual rowing. Waiting lists for membership are pretty long: admission criteria however do not seem to be very strict on ethical matters: Cesare Previti, a key member (Defence Minister) of Mr Berlusconi's cabinet, who ended up in jail for bribing judges, was a prominent member of one such club.
Opposites meet: a very different tribe lives next door to the very rich: some immigrants have their makeshift shelters under the trees on the river banks.
In 1911 the 50th anniversary of the Italian Unity was celebrated (among other events) with an exhibition located on both sides of the Tiber; for the occasion the first reinforced-concrete bridge of Rome was designed by François Hennebique, a French engineer who pioneered this construction system. The bridge was dedicated to il Risorgimento, the process which led to the Italian Unity.
Another member of the Royal Family was celebrated in a bridge built in 1939 by Vincenzo Fasolo as a grand entrance to Foro Italico. The bridge was dedicated to Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia Aosta, who commanded one of the Italian armies during WWI. He was the father of Amedeo to whom bridge 5) is dedicated.
The trip ends at Ponte Emanuele Filiberto, but when the boat turns to start the return journey it is possible to catch a glimpse of Ponte Milvio, one of the oldest bridges of Rome.
Other Days of Peace pages:
At the Flea Market
At the Beach
A Sunny Day in Villa Borghese
Voicing Your Views ..... and feeling better
La Festa de Noantri
A visit to Roseto di Roma
Christmas in Rome
Finding Solace at the Protestant Cemetery
Celebrating the Foundation of Rome
Watching the Parade
Attending 2007 July Events
Rome's Sleepless Night
Attending Winter Ceremonies
Running the Rome Marathon
Jogging at Valle delle Camene
An October Outing to Marino
Attending a Funeral ...and enjoying it!
A Special Spring Weekend
Embassy-hunting in Parioli
Celebrating Eritrean Michaelmas in Rome
Visiting Rome at Dawn
Visiting Rome in the Moonlight
Visiting Rome on a Hop-on-Hop-off Bus
Visiting Multi-ethnic Rome
Playing in the Snow at the Janiculum
Watching the Pride Parade
Visiting the Movie Sets at Cinecittà
Reading Memoirs of Hadrian at Villa Adriana