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Ponte Mammolo (Book 5) (Environs of Rome)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
A little church
Ponte Lucano e Sepolcro dei Plautii
Tor Cervara

The Plate (No. 81)

Ponte Mammolo

Vasi opens his book on the views over the Tiber with three plates devoted to the bridges which crossed the Aniene or Teverone a river coming from Tivoli and joining the Tiber north of Ponte Milvio. Ponte Mammolo was crossed by Via Tiburtina. The name comes after Mammaea, mother of the Emperor Alexander Severus. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Via Tiburtina towards Rome; 2) Tavern and house of the guardian; 3) La Vannina (a farmhouse); 4) Via Tiburtina towards Tivoli; 5) Ruins of the tower protecting the bridge. The small 1920 map shows the sites of 1) Ponte Mammolo; 2) a little church near Settecamini; 3) Ponte Lucano; 4) Tor Cervara.

Small ViewSmall View


The view today

In 1849 the bridge was blown up by the French troops in the fight against Garibaldi who was defending the Roman Republic. In 1857 the bridge was rebuilt by Pius IX , just a few hundred yards from the old one. The bridge was damaged in 1870 and rebuilt again in 1871. The old bridge was eventually repaired and with the help of Vasi's plate and using the little farmhouse (la Vannina Casale) as a reference point one can find the old Ponte Mammolo hidden by trees and modern buildings.

The farm

A little Church

A little churchLogo

Near Settecamini a little 1728 church (S. Francesco) is now almost imprisoned by traffic signs. The church shows up in the logo of the local band named after Arturo Toscanini.

Ponte Lucano e Sepolcro dei Plautii

Ponte Lucano

Via Tiburtina crosses again the Aniene a few miles before reaching Tivoli. The bridge is named after Lucanus Plautius whose family tomb stands immediately after the river. The circular monument was turned into a small fortress in the Middle Ages and its military use for many centuries afterwards is confirmed by a coat of arms of Paulus II (1464-71). It clearly reminds of Sepolcro di Cecilia Metella. Unfortunately the location, which once was very picturesque, today is spoiled by the industrial development of the area between Rome and Tivoli. Piranesi dedicated to Ponte Lucano one of his etchings, but I do prefer an early XIXth century painting (click here).

Sepolcro dei Plauti

Tor Cervara

Tor Cervara

Tor Cervara, a tall medieval tower near an abandoned tufa quarry on the Via Tiburtina, was the site of a carnival which was celebrated by the German artists living in Rome on the 1st of May, a day of joy across the Rhine, where they solemnized the new season. It was a sort of burlesque exhibition of pagan rites, to which most of the foreign artists gladly participated. It had its dignitaries, its militia, its corporations of musicians, of high priests, of cooks, of poets, of master of ceremonies all dressed up in grotesque costumes.
At daybreak the whole band went out by Porta Maggiore, and proceeded towards Tor de' Schiavi on the Via Prenestina, whence the procession turned northwards to make its way to the grottos of Cervara. Asses furnished a heroic mount to the participants, they were harnessed in toys from Nurnberg and their riders were clad in garments which made them look like good-men of the woods. The day quite obviously ended with everybody getting drunk.
German artists used to live near S. Isidoro in a street which for this reason is called Via degli Artisti.
The tradition was lost towards the end of the XIXth century. The sketch shown above together with a current image of Tor Cervara was drawn by Henri Regnault (1843-1871), a young French painter, who clearly took part with his fellow German friends in the ceremonies. Little did he know then that he would lose his life in January 1871, in the war which broke out between France and the German States led by Prussia.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Ponte Mammolo
Quattro miglia lungi dalla porta s. Lorenzo si vede questo ponte, il quale secondo alcuni, fu edificato da Alessandro Severo, o da Mammea sua madre, da cui facilmente porta il nome, e corrisponde colla via Tiburtina. Sul medesimo Aniene il ponte Lucano.

Next plate in Book 5: Ponte Nomentano
Next step in your tour of the Environs of Rome: Tivoli

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