Italy’s Marmore’s Falls: the water gem of Umbria

May 20, 2015

The Marmore’s Falls - Cascata delle Marmore, in Italian - is one of the stunning spectacles of the Region of Umbria.

This man-made waterfall was created by the ancient Romans in 271 BC: at that time, the Velino river - flowing through the surroundings of Rieti - fed a wetland that was thought to bring illness, probably malaria. In order to remove the threat, the Roman consul Manlius Curius Dentatus ordered the construction of the Curiano Trench, a canal diverting the stagnant waters into the natural cliff of Marmore. During the following centuries, the canal was repeatedly modified so that it could not to pose any danger for the population and, in the Nineteenth century, engineers began using the water flow to generate electricity.

Today, the Cascata delle Marmore has a total height of 165 meters (541 feet), making it the tallest man-made waterfall in Europe and one of the tallest in Italy. The fall has three sections and the top one, at 83 meters (272 feet), is the tallest.

Marmore’s Falls pours into the valley below formed by the river Nera and its source is still a portion of the waters of the river Velino, as planned by the ancient Roman engineers. The flow is turned on and off according to a published scheduled, and the fall can be seen in full operation during specific tours that can also be held at night: the powerful rush of water reflecting its silver sparkles on the grey rocks all around and the greenery is definitely a breathtaking view, something not to be missed by whoever visits Umbria and the nearby city of Terni.

Visitors are taken to a path along the falls and can hike up on top of the Cascata. Along the way, there is a tunnel leading to an observatory just next to the falls: perfect if you want to get joyfully soaked. If, on the other hand, you want to stay drive, you can pick the safer observatory near the top: it affords a grandiose view not only of the falls, but also of the Nera valley below.

The Marmore’s Falls wrap the flora in a cloud of white foam and has been affirmed during the centuries like one of the greatest phenomena of nature. Archeology lovers should also know that several excavations in the area showed the evidence of important religious buildings and sites since the Bronze age. Some proto-historic finds are now exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Terni.

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