Tiber Island

Isola Tiberina

Tiber is the small boat-shaped island located in the Tiber River south from Vatican City. Major feature of the island is the legends or better-put myths and history facts related to it. One of the legends says after the fall of the hated tyrant Tarquinius Superbus (509 BC), the angry Romans threw his body into the Tiber. His body then settled onto the bottom where dirt and silt accumulated around it and eventually formed Tiber Island. This does not comply with the historical facts because Tarquinius who was sent in exile from Rome lived many more years and died in 495 BC in the Greek colony Cumae.

The other legend goes that in the III century BC a group of Roman citizens returned from Greece from a trip to Sybills. In Greece they were given an instruction to build a temple devoted to Asclepius, Greek god of medicine and healing, with the purpose of liberating the city from plague. When they arrived to the River Tiber, they saw a snake creeping from under the boat (snake was the symbol of healing). The snake swam to the island pointing the place for foundation of the temple. As a reminding the island was made boat-shaped and the shores were faced with travertine. Instead of the mast there was installed the obelisk (it was later replaced by the pillar with the figures of the Saints; it still stands on the island today). Later in the centuries, in 998, young Emperor Otto III had built the Basilica of St Bartolomeo over the Asclepius temple's ruins on the eastern side of the island. This was dedicated to his friend, the martyr Adalbert of Prague; the name of St Bartholomew was added only later. The island can be reached via two ancient bridges: the Ponte Fabricio (62 BC), the only original bridge in Rome that connects the island from the northeast to the Field of Mars, and the Ponte Cestio (46 BC) of which only some original parts survived, that connects the island to Trastevere on the south. The island is associated with medicine. Currently there are two hospitals on the island - Fatebenefratelli and Israelitico. Trattoria Sora Lella is a nice place to have meal on the island.

Address: Ponte Cestio
How to reach: use Ponte Fabricio or Ponte Cestio
Coordinates: 41.890681, 12.477313