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Isola Tiberina

Isola Tiberina (82)

The Isola Tiberina is a small island situated between the two banks of the River Tiber. If you look at it, you will see that it is similar in shape to a boat. In fact, in the past its ends were covered with white marble, simulating the bow and stern of a vessel. This is due to a legend according to which, in the 3rd century BC, a group of Romans returned from Greece with instructions to build a temple in honour of Aesculapius. These Romans had been to see Sibyl so that she would tell them how to stop the epidemic that was rife at the time. During their return journey they saw how a snake identical to that which wound itself around the rod of Aesculapius was positioned on the island, indicating the place to build the temple. 

Thus a building was constructed on this site as well as a statue in honour of Aesculapius which you will find on the east jetty. 

In later times, Emperor Otton III built a new church over the temple of Aesculapius dedicated to his friend Adalbert. This church was where the remains of Saint Bartholomew ended up and, after the death of Otton, everybody forgot the figure of Adalbert and it became to be known as the church of Saint Bartholomew.

The island has always been associated with the sick and medicine and today, as well as the church, there is a hospital. 

Remember that to get to the island you must cross the Ponte Fabricio, the oldest bridge on the Tiber, or the Ponte Cestio. 

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