Ponte Nomentano – Rome, Italy - Atlas Obscura
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Ponte Nomentano

One of Rome's most picturesque and original bridges was also a popular choice for Grand Tour artists. 

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This beautiful pedestrian-only Roman bridge has been largely untouched since the Middle Ages. It spans over 190 feet (60 meters) above the Aniene river, a tributary of the Tiber. The Nomentano bridge was once surrounded by the vast and empty expanses of the Roman countryside.

Its unique architecture and solitude inspired scores of Grand Tour artists who depicted the bridge in sketches, paintings, and illustrations. Nowadays, despite being not far from the modern districts of Nomentano and Monte Sacro, the bridge still preserves some of its rural tranquillity.

The central arch is dated to the end of the Roman Republic or perhaps to the beginning of the Augustan age. The two smaller arches along the sides were constructed during the reign of Pope Innocent X (17th-century). An image of a club and a bovine head on the central arch seem to link the bridge to an ancient passage for cattle and a cult of Hercules. Its present architecture can be dated back to the Middle Ages, when a tower was added. According to local lore, a meeting between Charlemagne and Leo III occured on this bridge.

The Nomentano bridge is believed to have been partially damaged and demolished on two occasions, once during the time of the Gothic Wars and in 1849 when the French army attempted to block Garibaldi’s advance on the city.

Since 1997, the municipal authorities have limited access to pedestrians only in order to protect the ancient bridge.

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