It’s a peaceful corner in the heart of Rome. It’s set along the stretch of water that runs through its shores and it touches the Southern part of the centre and the Northern part of Trastevere. According to the legend this island was made with the shieves of wheat that was harvested in Campo Marzio in 510 B.C. It’s connected to the heart of Rome and the characteristic district of Trastevere through the Fabricio and Cestio bridges, the Tiber island has always been considered one of the most picturesque areas of the city. Rome slows down and lingers in contemplation here to show its descreet soul and its memories. The busy squares of the capital city sound distant from this corner of the river Tiber full of history and charme. The Tiber island is a nice break from the busy vibrant squares, the streets of the city centre, the bright colours, the narrow streets and the little squares of Trastevere. You can reach this island to take a peaceful break and hear the city in the distance, you can contemplate the river Tiber and you can also have lunch in one of its several locals.
The boat-shaped island
This island has been always set apart from the ups and downs of the city and that’s why the temple of Aesculapius, the Greek God of Healing was set there whose worship was introduced in 292 B.C. after the plague. Then the island became a monument during the construction of the bridges Cestio and Fabricio also called “the bridge with four heads” because it had a herm with four marble heads that reminded the god Giano, the protector of gates and passages. It was an ancient decoration, just two little pillars are still visible nowadays and the Vicus Censorius as well that used to connect them. Its shape reminds the one of a ship and the part that represents the prow between the travertine blocks and the decorations shows Aesculapius and his snake and an ox’ head. In the Roman time there was also the temple dedicated to Jupiter’s vows which is still partially visible in the basement of Fatebenefratelli hospital.
It’s an oasis of peace and history, the Tiber island has always been a place related to health and the ancient sanctuary that stood where the church of S. Bartolomeo is set nowadays shows this peculiar characteristic of the island. The Sanctuary was an hospital and some inscriptions still tell about miraculous healings, vows and dedications. The church of San Bartolomeo all’Isola was an important worship place of the capital city, it was built by the emperor Ott III of Saxony and it contributed to the change of the island and the whole city after the spreading of Christianity. The crosses and the Christian memories enrich the six lateral chapels of what is considered one of the most important monuments of the Roman history set in the middle of the Tiber island between Trastevere, the district of the first Christian preaching and the old Jewish district.
Lungotevere with a view
You can almost touch it from Lungotevere. When you reach the Synagogue which is one of the biggest of Europe built between 1901 and 1904 on one of the most crumbling areas of the Jewish Ghetto the line of the Tiber island appears among the trees. If you stroll around Lungotevere dè Cenci towards the Garibaldi Bridge you’ll see the Fabricio Bridge and the tower that dominates the island’s Northern entrance above the Castle Caetani and Fatebenefratelli hospital. If you cross the Garibaldi bridge you’ll reach Trastevere, the southern bank of the river from where you can enjoy the view of Cestio bridge, the heart of the island and the church overlooking it together with Pio IX column in the middle. If you walk along Lungotevere Anguillara and Lungotevere Alberteschi you’ll reach the Palatino Bridge on the other side near Circo Massimo.
Zampa e Monicelli
The great Italian movie industry went through here and it’s still present. Many famous movies set in the capital city were shot on the Tiber island with its beautiful views in the background and its historical buildings overlooking the river. This secluded quiet part of Rome has often been the perfect stage for great movies that represent the best production of the 20th century together with many famous actors. From “Nettezza Urbana” by Michelangelo Antonioni to “L’onorevole Angelina” by Luigi Zampa starring the great Anna Magnani, “Racconti romani” by Gianni Franciolini starring Franco Fabrizi, “Donatella” by Mario Monicelli starring Elsa Martinelli, “Arrivederci Roma” by Roy Rowland starring Mario Lanza and Raffaella Marini, “L’avventura” by Antonioni starring Lea Massari and Monica Vitti and “Tassisti di notte” by Jim Jarmush, a serial movie dating back to 1991 starring Roberto Benigni. No doubt about it: the Tiber island is one of the most appreciated areas of Rome and it’s one of the best shown and best told areas of the city.
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