The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, with a total length of 252 mi, and is well known as the primary river in Rome. The river rises from Mount Fumaiolo, one of the main summits of the Apennines, in Emilia-Romagna, and then flows southwardly to Lazio, where it merges with the Aniene River, and then continues to Ostia, where it drains into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Tiber has a drainage basin that covers an area of approximately 6,709 sq mi, and its main branches are the Aniene, Nera, Paglia, Nestore, and Chiascio rivers.
Source of the Tiber
The Tiber originates from two springs on Mount Fumaiolo, which are 33 ft apart and are known as "Le Vene." The springs are located in the beech forest and are situated at an elevation of about 4,160 ft above sea level. During the 1930s, Benito Mussolini erected an antique marble column, which has an eagle on top, at the place where Tiber rises. The first few miles of the Tiber flow through Valtiberina before the river enters the Umbria region.
History of the Tiber
Rome was established in 753 BC on the banks of the Tiber, about 16 mi from the Tyrrhenian Sea, in Ostia. Tiber Island, which is located in the Tiber and is situated in the middle of Rome, right between the ancient-center and Trastevere, was the site of a crucial archaic ford. According to legend, twin brothers Remus and Romulus, who founded Rome, were rescued by a she-wolf after they were left on the Tiber. The Tiber served as a border between the Latins, Sabines, and the Etruscans. Mussolini adjusted the border between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany so that the "Le Vene" springs would be located in Romagna. The Tiber is currently confined between high stone-embankments whose construction began in 1876.
The river was crucial to Roman commerce and trade since their vessels could sail 60 miles upriver. For example, ships carrying grains from Val-Teverina sailed through the Tiber during the fifth century. The Romans used the Tiber to ferry foodstuffs, timber, and stone to Rome, and the port at Ostia was a crucial naval base in the Punic Battle of the third century. The pier became Rome's most vital port for importing wine, wheat, and olive oil from its colonies.
Heavy sedimentation of the Tiber prompted emperors Trajan and Claudius to build another port at Fiumicino during the first century AD. The heavy sedimentation made sailing impossible, and therefore numerous popes attempted to improve navigation by dredging the Tiber between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. This improved trade in the region temporarily, but by the twentieth century, the Tiber was only navigable up to Rome.
Bridges on the Tiber
In addition to numerous modern bridges spanning the river in Rome, there are various ancient bridges that are still used by pedestrians. Some of the bridges that have survived include the Ponte Sant'Angelo, Fabricius Bridge, and Ponte Milvio. Constructed in 62 BC and connecting Tiber Island with Campus Martiushe, the Fabricius Bridge is the oldest Roman bridge which still exists in its original state. Besides bridges that span the Tiber, there are numerous tunnels that are used by Metro trains.