Marmore Falls – Terni
The most famous artificial waterfalls in Italy, among the highest in Europe.
Marmore Falls are the most famous waterfall in Italy and they are officially classified as an “artificial waterfall with controlled flow” (Wikipedia) despite being among the highest in Europe with a total height difference of 165 m in 3 drops, and being in a fantastic natural setting.
To be precise: Lake Piediluco waters flow into the falls, across the Velino river, fall into the gorge of the Nera river near the district of Marmore, in the province of Terni, offering visitors a magnificient spectacle.
Why “artificial waterfall”?
Since Roman times, that area, very rich in water, was troublesome for the inhabitants because a stagnant and unhealthy swamp formed there. In 271 BC, the Roman consul Manius Curius Dentatus had a canal built to drain the stagnant waters towards the natural Marmore fall and make them fall directly into the Nera river, a tributary of the Tiber.
Over the centuries, the work has been modified and improved several times until it assumed its current form in 1787 by order of Pope Pius VI.
Why “controlled flow”?
Today part of the water is intercepted and used for the production of hydroelectric energy and only 30% of the natural flow normally flows into the waterfall, i.e. about 15 m³ / sec, considering that the waters of the Marmore Falls have a minimum flow rate of 30 m³ / sec, averages of 60 m³ / sec and maximums of 300 m³ / sec.
At fixed times or on special occasions the waterfall is returned to its splendor and returns to full capacity. An acoustic signal warns of the opening of the adjustment gates and the flow rate increases in a few minutes until it regains its majestic natural appearance. Seeing it live is an exciting experience.
Marmore Falls is part of the Nera river park. The area is equipped with visit trails, an Environmental Education Center and services. It is possible to carry out guided tours and activities managed by qualified personnel.
The park can be accessed from below (lower viewpoint) or from above (upper viewpoint) by paying a fee.
Among the most evocative observation points, there is the so-called Lovers’ Tunnel, a small tunnel dug into the rock that ends with a small terrace, the Balcony, which is located inside the waterfall, where the roar is deafening and splashes are guaranteed!
Over the centuries, the water has carved large caves with stalactites and stalagmites in the travertine. Some of these can be visited and represent a quite unknown aspect of Marmore Falls.
Marmore waterfall have always been considered a great attraction, even indispensable for travelers of rank. From Pliny to Cicero, from Galileo to Vittorio Alfieri, from the king of Naples Ferdinand II and the Queen Mother, and many artists and writers. Even Leonardo da Vinci, who here created the famous Landscape with River drawing preserved in the Uffizi in Florence.
In the Romantic era (XVIII and XIX centuries) the waterfall was often included in the great training tour of young European aristocrats. Lord Byron gives an ecstatic description of it.
Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Valnerina and Marmore Falls were also the favorite destinations of the so-called “Plenarist” painters, that is, en plen air, who were fascinated by the beauty of this place.
Like all places of great beauty, the Marmore Falls also inspired myths and legends.
The legend of the “Bridal Veil” tells that it was Saint Valentine who made the water flow from the rock to prove the purity of the Black nymph questioned by her future husband, and thus creating with the water a wonder similar to the veil of a bride.
Another legend, that of “Nera and Velino“, is told by Gnefro (elf or gnome from Valnerina). The Black nymph loved the young shepherd Velino, but the two lovers were forbidden to be together because they belonged to different worlds. But they loved each other equally and Juno, furious, transformed the Black nymph into a river. Velino, believing that Nera was drowning, threw himself off the cliff of Marmore and Jupiter, pitying him, turned him into water so as to be reunited with Nera forever.
Entrance with a fee
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