Ecotourism along the Tiber


How many of you are aware of the fact that a colorful caravan of slow travelers travels the Tiber every year from Città di Castello to the center of Rome by canoe, on foot, by bicycle and on horseback? Mostly they are foreigners, of course, but this is not an alibi, but rather an element to reflect on…

All the pre-Roman settlements whose convergence gave rise to historic Rome lived on the Tiber from above, never too closely, for obvious reasons of defense and because the indomitable nature of the river gave rise to flash floods. As the river was silted up, the ships were no longer able to reach the emporium (under the current Testaccio district) as in the classical era, but goods and passengers continued to reach Rome by river, with the method ofhaulage, that is, on barges or barges towed from the shore, with the driving force of oxen and even men, in case of need.

Who should think of an ancient system, makes a mistake: the method remained in use until the mid-nineteenth century, only because the oxen were replaced by steam tugs, which dragged three or four barges (as happened on the Seine until many years ago).
Just think that in 1704 the Port of Ripetta was built, on the left bank at Castel Sant'Angelo, dedicated above all to traffic with the Umbrian hinterland.
And it was then only at the beginning of the nineteenth century (1827) that Leo XII had another port built, on the right bank, further downstream, a little further down from Porta Santo Spirito, called the "port of travertines" because it was used to transport marble intended for the construction of St. Peter's Basilica.

All types of boats sailed on the Tiber, including sailing boats: it took three days to descend the river from Orte. In addition to the barges pulled by tugboats, the small fishing boats, there were also small boats for transhipping people from one shore to another (do not forget that until the fall of the Papal State there were only four city bridges over the Tiber: Ponte Mollo, the Castello bridge, the Sisto bridge and the two bridges across the Tiber Island, the Cestio bridge and the Quattro Capi bridge).

It was by river that the 150 monolithic white marble columns of the new portico of the basilica of San Paolo fuori le mura arrived: leaving from the quarries of Baveno and Montorfano, they had to circumnavigate Italy from Lake Maggiore to Ticino, from the Po to the Adriatic , to then go up the Tiber to the foot of the Basilica. A four year journey.

Also worthy of mention is the last major transport by river, on a specially built concrete barge: the marbles coming from the Apuan Alps and destined for the obelisk of the Foro Italico descended along the Tiber in 1929.

Tiberinalia: restarting (slowly) from the beauty of creation, the arts and travel

With the Tiberinalia, project, Cammini d'Europa proposes to take the marriage of the Tiber with Mother Earth as a symbol of a broad program of activities aimed at recovering a strong sense of community and a shared vision of the future. And go back to looking at the landscape, nature, the environment and cultural heritage as extraordinary resources for creating a more equitable and more sustainable future.

With its 405 kilometres, the Tiber crosses the territories of Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio, uniting the internal areas of the Apennines with the Tyrrhenian Sea: an incredible opportunity to weave an engaging narrative plot for everyone those who live around the banks of the river, starting from environmental education in schools, from the sweet social dimension of provincial life, from forgotten customs, from literary walks, from cycling in nature, from canoeing, from the sporting activities of the clubs rowing, up to the creation of a Museum of the Tiber and the memories of the civilizations that lived there.

Too much poetry? Too many words? Let's get to the facts.

The Tiber is the third longest Italian river, after the Po and the Adige. It is second only to the Po for the size of the hydrographic basin, with 17,375 km² and with an average annual flow rate of 240 m³/s at the mouth. And it is also the third national watercourse (after the Po and the Ticino) by transport volume. Above all, for us it is the 1st Apennine river in terms of length and flow: let's start from here.

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