The waters of the Velino and their Rieti.
A different perspective on a beautiful city
What it is and where it is
From Porta Romana we continue straight on the commercial street of the same name until we reach Piazza Cavour, where the view opens up to the Bellagamba Riverfront. The river marks the transition between the present day and the ancient history of the city of Rieti. In fact, as we pass over the New Bridge-which connects the southern suburbs with the historic center-we can see the remains of the ancient Roman bridge emerging from the water, like a wreck suspended somewhere between the past era and our own. Lifting your gaze, you have a magnificent view of the rooftops and towers of the town, considered the navel of Italy.
Why it is special
The Lungovelino is not only a bastion of ancient history, but is, more properly, the origin of this town's life. And, even today, it is a vibrant home to countless local animal species, such as crayfish -- used for traditional dishes -- and white ducks, affectionate frequenters of the remains of the old Roman bridge. It is also enlivened by the presence of numerous green parks where one can take a break, a long promenade to enjoy on foot or by bike, and plenty of vantage points from which to capture the beauty of a historic center waiting to be discovered. Beyond the bridge and the river...you will be in the navel of Italy.
Every year, during one week in July, you can watch the "Festival of the Sun," in which the city's districts compete among the cold, clear waters of the Velino River. The competitions, born out of ancient cultural traditions, include bicycle race on the river, fiumarole boat race, swimming, and vat palio. The evening of the Lungovelino is colored by torchlight, musical concerts and even twinning with cities around the world that share similar cultures and races on their rivers. An international event in Central Italy.
A bit of history
The history of the Velino River is represented-aside from the presence in its bed of the remains of the ancient Roman bridge, dating back to the 3rd century B.C.-by the ancient folk traditions carried on by the citizens of Rieti themselves. If until the last century the river was used for washing clothes, the first baths of young men, and fishing for trout and crayfish, today organized races and athletic competitions are born, which, even more, promote the close link between the water and the navel of Italy.
From water originated both ancient rural communities and the greatest historical civilizations the world has known. We know ... One thing that perhaps not everyone knows, is that it is to the Velino that we owe the Marmore Falls, or rather, to the Roman consul who in 271 B.C. decided to build a canal that would drain its waters, which at the time formed a stagnant swamp, to the Nera River, thus creating the beautiful waterfall. Talk about combining the useful with the delightful!
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