Spending summer in Rome has many perks. Instead of wandering through the streets and admiring the beautiful sites around, why not live like the Romans do and spend some time unwinding in the evening by visiting the only existing island on the Fiume Tevere, Isola Tiberina. Make your way down to the island around sunset, as this is the time when the festivities begin and the island comes alive.
Filled with history and shrouded in legend, this boat-shaped island has been associated with medicine and healing for centuries- in part because it once housed the ancient temple of Greek god for healing Aesculapius.
A more well-known legendary tale regards the island’s formation: it was said that after the fall of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus in 509 BC people threw his wheat and grain into the Tevere, causing the accumulation of mud that eventually formed the island.
The island can be accessed from the Jewish Ghetto by Ponte Fabricio and Trastevere by Ponte Cestio.
Begin your walk by crossing Ponte Cestio from Trastevere- this bridge has a better view of the whole island. As a side-note, a more picturesque view of the island can be seen from Ponte Garibaldi. Upon entering the island, you will find yourself standing in between Ospedale Fatebenefratelli, a modern, functional hospital built in 1584 to honor the island’s tradition of medicine and its main square, Piazza San Bartolomeo all’Isola.
The hospital has restricted access, so make your way to the main square and visit the Basilica di San Bartolomeo all’Isola instead. Emperor Otto III built this church over Aesculapius’ ancient temple at the end of the 10th century as a tribute to his friend and martyr, Adalbert of Prague. The church then went through several renovations by Pope Paschal II and was rededicated to the relics of the apostle Bartholomew.
Take some time and step into the church before your nightly adventures begin. You will be mesmerized by the beautiful interior masterpiece of architecture the church has to offer. There are six sides of chapels dedicated to different historical and geographical contexts in which witnesses of the faith lived.
At the corner of the church, walk down the red carpet and check out what I’Isola del Cinema is showing on screen. The island is known for hosting this annual film festival in the summer in conjunction with Lungo il Tevere- the events and restaurants held along the riverbank of the Tevere. Familiarize yourself with the cinema and future activities available by picking up a pamphlet of their program at the point of entry.
With an array of restaurants and cafés along the riverbanks and the island itself, you are definitely spoilt for choice. Why not make your way to Tiberino, a new open-air bistro on the island and try their linguine with prawns and parsley for €12. Make sure you save room after dinner for their homemade ‘Tiberino’ gelato.
Enjoy the rest of your evening by joining the festivities! Begin your night by exploring what the booths at Isola Tiberina have to offer, socializing, and mingling with the public. Check out the three outdoor amphitheaters available on site.
The film festival runs until September 6th and it is also a daily event starting from 7pm till 2am. The outdoor nightly cinema is divided into three amphitheaters: Arena Groupama (€5 from Monday to Thursday and €6 from Friday to Sunday), Cinelab (€3) and Spazio Luce for free. The festival attracts hundreds of guests due to its lively atmosphere, eclectic mix of activities and screening of both national and international cinema.
Wait a minute, don’t leave just yet! Take a stroll down the riverbanks and become a part of the vibrant atmosphere. There are bound to be plenty of activities to make this one of the most memorable nights of your life!
Down by the Riverside:
RESTAURANTS & LOUNGE BAR:
JALLO la terrazza
Are you ready?
Stand Luce Cinecittà