Legend has it that, around 290 BC, Roman officials sailed to Epidauro in Greece.

They consulted Aesculapius, the god of medicine, about pestilence that had broken out in Rome. The myth says that a serpent, a symbol of the god, left the Greek temple and boarded the Roman vessel. When the vessel returned to Rome, the serpent climbed onto the Tiberina Island and settled there. The Romans built a temple on the island, dedicated to the god, whereupon the pestilence disappeared. Since then, the island has maintained a medical tradition.

Ponte Rotto, Ponte Fabricio and the island

Ponte Rotto, Ponte Fabricio and the island

Ponte Fabricio from the Lungotevere

Ponte Fabricio from the Lungotevere

The island is connected to Rome by two bridges: to the east, the old Ponte Fabricio and, on the western side, the newer and wider Ponte Cestio. There is a third bridge, which must be one of the unluckiest in history. The Ponte Rotto (meaning “broken bridge”) had already collapsed twice when Pope Gregory ordered it to be rebuilt, around 1575. The bridge c