The Ponte Fabricio, Tiber Island, Rome - a 40 minute brisk walk from the Vatican!
The Tiber Island (Italian: Isola Tiberina, Latin: Insula Tiberina) is one of the two islands in the Tiber river, which runs through Rome; the other, much larger one is called Isola Sacra and is near the mouth of the river at Ostia. Tiber island is located in the southern bend of the Tiber. It is boat-shaped, approximately 270 m long and 67 m wide. There is a legend which says that after the fall of the hated tyrant Tarquinius Superbus (510 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. Another version of the legend says that the people gathered up the wheat and grain of their despised ruler and threw it into the Tiber, where it eventually became the foundation of the island.
The island has been linked to the rest of Rome by two bridges since antiquity, and was once called Insula Inter-Duos-Pontes which means "the island between the two bridges". The Pons Fabricius (Italian: Ponte Fabricio, meaning "Fabricius' Bridge") or Ponte dei Quattro Capi is the oldest Roman bridge in Rome, Italy, still existing in its original state, and spans half of the Tiber River, from the Campus Martius on the east side to Tiber Island in the middle (the Pons Cestius is west of the island). Quattro Capi ("four heads") refers to the two marble pillars of the two-faced Janus herms on the parapet, which were moved here from the nearby Church of St. Gregory (Monte Savello) in the 14th century.
According to Dio Cassius, the bridge was built in 62 BC, the year after Cicero was consul, to replace an earlier wooden bridge destroyed by fire. It was commissioned by Lucius Fabricius, the curator of the roads and a member of the gens Fabricia of Rome. Completely intact from Roman antiquity, it has been in continuous use ever since.
The Pons Fabricius has a length of 62 m, and is 5.5 m wide. It is constructed from two wide arches, supported by a central pillar in the middle of the stream. Its core is constructed of tuff. Its outer facing today is made of bricks and travertine.
An original inscription on the travertine commemorates its builder in Latin, L . FABRICIVS . C . F . CVR . VIAR | FACIVNDVM . COERAVIT | IDEMQVE | PROBAVIT. (Lucius Fabricius, Son of Gaius, Superintendent of the road, took care and likewise approved that it be built). It is repeated four times: on each arch, on both sides of the bridge.
A later inscription, in smaller lettering, records that the bridge was later restored under Pope Innocent XI, probably in 1679.
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Ponte dei Quattro Capi
Bridge of four heads
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