Rome: Tiber Island

One day while we were in Rome, we were on our way over to the Trestevere neighborhood, when we crossed over a new bridge spanning the Tiber. Like Paris, Rome sits one two sides of a large famous (and infamous) river, connected by many bridges. These bridges all very in architecture, traffic, and other measures. But the one we discovered that day actually is two bridges that connect to an island in the middle of the Tiber, called (fittingly) Tiber Island.

The island is large enough to house several large buildings, dwellings, a market, and streets. It was formerly the location of an ancient temple of to the Greek god of medicine and healing, Asclepius. You can still see ruins of the temple, as well as the find the symbol commonly associated with medicine today – the sanke around a mast. This symbol actually has its origin in the island’s history. During an outbreak of the plague, Romans were sent to the temple of Asclepius to fetch a statue of the deity and a snake charmed by priests and bring them back to Rome for a new temple to the god. The snake wound itself around the ship’s mast for the length of the journey and came down when they disembarked on the island. The Romans took it as a sign and built the temple there. Throughout centuries the island’s associated with medicine and healing remained – eventually housing both  basilica and hospital.You can still find famous symbol of the medicine god on the islands base structures today.

Today the island houses several shops and restaurants, including a star gelateria (which I found very healing)! You can also climb down steep steps to the Tiber waterfront.  You will find large iron handles for docking boats, and plenty of room to sit and watch the Tiber rush by.

We spent an afternoon an afternoon exploring the island. Here are some pictures:

(PS. Some of these are in black & white because I had a new camera phone on the trip and didn’t know I had set it on B&W!)

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