We’ll go back in time to rediscover the Tiber River in its former glory, long before the embankments. For example, we’ll talk about ancient engineering and two two-thousand year-old bridges on Tiber Island (one of which is in the picture). From the Island, we can glimpse the Cloaca Maxima–the “main drain” or the ancient Roman sewer that ran under a large portion of the city. We’ll also stroll through scenic Trastevere (literally the neighborhood “on the other side of the Tiber”). There, we’ll discuss place names and roads, like Vicolo della Renella and Via Arenula. (Both Renella and Arenula come from the Latin arena, which means “sand” and referred to the sandy beaches where locals went to bathe or wash clothes.)
Changing eras and neighborhoods, we’ll cross Ponte Sisto, Pope Sixtus’s Bridge (seen in the photo). It was built in the early Renaissance and connected the proletariat Trastevere with the elegant Via Giulia–the “in” place to live in the 1500s. (In fact, the artist Raphael owned property there, rubbing elbows with the most chic aristocratic families of his time.) We’ll examine a curious flood marker from the Middle Ages and then cross Ponte Sant’Angelo, the bridge that Hadrian ordered built in 130 A.D. to connect his Mausoleum with the central Rome.