Here we were, finally, to admire a nature show we wanted for so long to see…..
The Marmore Falls, extolled during the centuries for its beauty, appears like a roaming water column distributed on three drops. Wrapping the flora in a cloud of white foam, covers a difference in high of 165 metres. The scenery disclosed to the visitors eyes is the work of men made since centuries, from the Roman period, tried to canalize the waters of the Velino river to fall into the Nera river.
Its history began in 271 BC when the Roman consul Curio Dentato made a reclaimed work in the plain of Rieti realizing a canal of beyond two kilometers up the cliff of Marmore. In archaeology, the traces left by the ancient people on the territory is testified by the several finds brought to the light during the years.
Affirmed during the centuries like one of the greatest phanomena of nature, the Marmore Falls had the role of protagonist also in arts and literature, becoming the destination of intellectuals who, along the routes of the Grand Tour, reached Italy to overtake studies of the classicality. During the last twenty years of the XIX century became the instrument of the water system regulation, used by energetic reasons for the rising industry. The using of water for industrial reasons, prevailed on the tourist and naturalistic connotations.
Today the Park of Marmore welcome the visitor leading through different excursion trails, to discover rocks and caves that characterized the geology. And the vegetation, with its species worthy the visit, catch the attention of people who want to venture in the excursion area, the real heart of the Falls.
Lover balcony….To reach it, it takes about 20 minutes of walk along the route #1, but it is worth it. “The lover’s balcony” is there, in front of the first drop of the Falls; it’s very near to the water and for this reason you need to wear a raincoat to stop there (we didn’t have any so we got really wet, but the sun dried us in a few minutes!). It is a little terrace situated at the end of the tunnel (called with the same name, the tunnel of lovers), in the travertine rock, few centimeters from the Falls: if you stretch out the legs, you can touch the water of the Velino river. Why “of the lovers”? because it is the favourite place of lovers and because the Falls is linked to the myth of St. Valentine, the first bishop of Terni (III century AD), patron of the city and of the lovers. The legend tells that the saint to demonstrate the purity of the beautiful Nerina put in doubt from her lover, stroke the cliff with the crosier making the waters flown to form a great bridal veil.
“Horrified beauty”. Byron liked the Falls very much. The English poet during the Grand Tour visited Marmore Falls and wrote immortal verses. Between George Byron and the Falls was love at first sight.
“The roar of waters! From the headlong height
Velino cleaves the wave-worn precipice.
The fall of waters! Rapid as the light
the flashing mass foams shaking the abyss.
The hell of waters! Where they howl and hiss,
and boil in endless torture; while the sweat
of their great agony, wrung out from this
their Phlegeton, curls round the rocks of jet
that gird the gulf around, in pitiless horror set,
and mounts in spray the skies, and thence again
returns in an unceasing shower, which round,
with its unemptied cloud of gentle rain,
is an eternal April to the ground,
making it all one emerald. How profound
the gulf! And how the giant element
from rock to rock leaps with delirious bound,
crushing the cliffs, which, downward worn and rent
with his fierce footsteps, yield in chasms a fearful vent
to the broad column which rolls on, and shows
more like the fountain of an infant sea
torn from the womb of mountains by the throes
of a new world, than only thus to be
parent of rivers, which flow gunshingly,
with many windings through the vale. Look back!
Look! Where it comes like an eternity,
as if to sweep down all things in its track,
charming the eye with dread, a matchless cataract
horribly beautiful! But on the verge
from side to side, beneath the glittering morn,
and Iris sits, amidst the infernal surge,
like Hope upon a deathbed, and unworn,
its steady dyes, while all around is torn
by the distracted waters, bears serene
its brilliant hues with all their beams unshorn;
resembling, ‘mid the torture of the scene,
Love watching madness with unalterable mien”
Above, on a bench, the book with Byron verses and a cloack similar to the one he wore himself, a reminder of his visit here.
After lunch we drove north to pay a visit to one of the most honoured Saint in Italy.
We passed her native village, to go to Cascia where a Church is dedicated to her, destination of thousand of pilgrims every year.
All the upper village of Cascia lives around the Saint’s memory……..a little too much for my taste. Everywhere there are souvenirs shops selling everything related to Saint Rita. I’d rather a smaller church and monastery, more intimate and peaceful….
The foundation stone of the church of Saint Rita of Cascia was laid on June 20th 1937, only ten years later, on May 18th 1947, the building was consecrated. The actual aspect however is the fruit of the desire of Pope Pio XII and of the work of first his Eminence Spirito Chiapetta and then of the architects Martinenghi and Calori, with the economic contribution of so many people devoted to the Saint all over the world.The basilica, covered with a white travertine typical of the cellars of Tivoli, presents a Greek cross plan with fours large lateral apses and central cupola dominating the presbytery.
The interior walls are covered with frescos from, among others, Luigi Montanarini, Luigi Filocamo, Silvio Consadori and Gisberto Ceracchini, the sacred “suppellettili” and the main altar are the work of Giacomo Manzù. The remains of Saint Rita are laying nowadays protected by the left gate still perfectly preserved.
This marked the end of our visit to Umbria, a very beautiful region of my country. It left a permanent memory on our hearts, and a deep desire to come back soon….