The river Tiber in Rome

Tiber (Tevere, in Italian) is the name of the river winding itself through the center of Rome. It is not the most beautiful river in Europe, although it does have some photogenic bridges. The most picturesque part of the river is off the Trastevere district, near the island called Isola Tiberina.

Tiber river Rome

History and curiosities

Tiber river Rome
The Tiber between the Ponte Mazzini and the Ponte Principe, in the center of Rome.

The source of the Tiber is in the Apennines north of Rome, in the Reggio Emilia region. It reaches the sea at Ostia, where Rome’s ancient port used to be. It is the third longest river in Italy (405 kilometers).

Ponte Rotto, Ponte Fabricio and Tiber island in Rome
Ponte Rotto, Ponte Fabricio and Tiber Island.

It is near the Isola Tiberina that Rome is believed to have been founded. The basket carrying Romulus and Remus was washed ashore around this spot and they were saved and fed by the famous she-wolf.

For a long time, this was also the only spot to cross from the center to Trastevere.

In 1875 the high walls on both sides of the Tiber were erected. Before this happened there were often floods. Signs on various buildings near the river bank show how high the water had reached on certain days. According to one legend, one time the floods reached the Piazza di Spagna and when they withdrew left an old and decrepit boat at the foot of the Spanish Steps. This is, according to some historians, the reason why the Fontana della Barcaccia was placed in the square.

Every year in summer a festival is held along the banks of the river at Trastevere. The banks are then full of makeshift bars and restaurants, together with market stands selling all kinds of trinkets and souvenirs.

It is possible to take a boat trip on the Tiber. However, the high walls along the river are most prominent in the more picturesque part of the city, so this is less interesting than you would expect.

It is also possible to take a boat from Rome to the ruins of Ostia Antica.

There is also a cycling path along its banks.

Curiosities

The source of the Tiber may be in the province of Forli-Cesena now, but this has not always been the case. In 1923, the fascist dictator Mussolini had the borders of the provinces changed, so that the Tevere would have its source in the province where he was born.

The original name of the Tiber was Albula, because of the clarity of its water. Later, by the Etruscans, it came to be called Ruben. It is only in Roman times that the river came to be called Tevere.

River Tiber, Rome


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