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Page revised in June 2010.
Ponte Mammolo (Book 5) (Environs of Rome)
Vasi opened his book on the views over the Tiber with three etchings
devoted to the bridges which crossed the Aniene or Teverone, a river coming
from Subiaco and Tivoli and joining the Tiber north of Ponte Milvio. Via Tiburtina the road leading to Tivoli crosses the Aniene twice; Vasi chose to show Ponte Mammolo, the bridge nearer to Rome, although Ponte Lucano, the other bridge, offered a more evocative view because of a nearby ancient mausoleum.
The ancient bridge, which already at Vasi's time was in a rather poor state, was so greatly damaged in 1849 during the events related to the Defence of the Roman Republic by Giuseppe Garibaldi that it was replaced by a new bridge a few hundred yards downstream.
Casale la Vannina, the farmhouse shown in the etching, was not damaged by war events and it helps in exactly locating the site of the ancient bridge, the ruins of which are hidden by vegetation.
Nuovo Ponte Mammolo
A new bridge was built by Pope Pius IX, but it was purposely damaged in 1867 to prevent an attempt by Garibaldi to enter Rome; the current bridge is the result of later modifications.
S. Francesco a Settecamini
Today Settecamini is a modern borough of Rome along Via Tiburtina; its name (literally seven chimneys) is associated with the legendary martyrdom of seven Christian brothers by Emperor Hadrian in connection with the construction of its nearby villa. In the XVIth century the area belonged to the Cesi family who built a farm opposite a previous one; the farm became known as Osteria del Fornaccio as it housed an inn and a bakery. The Cesi had extensive possessions in Umbria; the property of Settecamini was eventually acquired by the Torlonia who in the last period of the Papal State owned almost all the countryside surrounding Rome.
Via Tiburtina crosses the Aniene again a few miles before reaching Tivoli. The bridge is named after Lucanus Plautius whose family mausoleum stands immediately after the river. Giovan Battista Piranesi dedicated one of his etchings to Ponte Lucano (external link), but also many landscape painters loved this place (you may wish to see an 1810 painting by Filippo Giuntotardi - external link).
M. Plautius M. F. A. N. | Silvanus | cos. VII vir epulon., | huic senatus triumphalia | ornamenta decrevit | ob res in Ilyrico | bene gestas. | Lartia Cn. f. uxor. | A. Plautius M. F. | Urgulanius | vix. ann. IX, this long inscription is repeated twice and it says that Marcus Plautius Sylvanus, his wife Lartia and his son Aulus were buried in the mausoleum and that Marcus had been consul, septemvir of the Epulones (*) and was honoured by the Senate with the triumphal ornaments for having conducted well the affairs of Illyricum (**).
(*) Similar to Caius Cestius.
(**) A Roman province roughly corresponding to today's Croatia.
The mausoleum was built in the Ist century AD and it resembles in miniature Sepolcro di Cecilia Metella; it was turned into a small fortress in the Middle Ages.
Tor Cervara, a tall medieval tower near an abandoned tufa quarry on the Via Tiburtina, was the site of a carnival which was celebrated by the German artists living in Rome on the 1st of May, a day of joy across the Rhine, where they solemnized the
new season. It was a sort of burlesque exhibition of pagan rites, to which most of the foreign artists gladly participated. It had its dignitaries, its militia, its corporations of musicians, of high priests, of cooks, of poets, of master of ceremonies all dressed up in grotesque costumes.