The Lungo il Tevere festival takes place along the banks of Rome’s famous river every summer. Now in its 10th year, the festival started off pretty low key with a handful of stalls selling schmatta and bric-a-brac and a couple of bars on Tiber Island. It’s grown to be quite elaborate with dozens of bars and restaurants lining the river – some of which are very posh – and music, movies, plays, art shows, schmatta and bric-a-brac.
See what the festival’s English website has to say for itself (no doubt written with assistance from the ever trustworthy and ever hilarious Google translation tool): Our main purpose, as to the edition of 2011, is informing citizens and tourists about the existence of a place that offers the possibility to enrich their own personal culture in a free way throughout fixed appointments – both cultural and of entertainment- addressed to study in detail themes about the tradition and the future of Rome.
As far as culture is concerned, according to the site: It’s surely one of the main points of this edition, with the presence of various instructive and brain-widening events.
I’m not sure how much my brain was widened the last time I visited the festival but it was lovely sitting alongside the river on a starry summer night. Tiber Island backs up on Pons Aemilius, alias Ponte Rotto (the Broken Bridge), the oldest stone bridge in Rome. It was first built in 179 BC and Augustus restored it in 12 BC. During Lungo il Tevere, what’s left of the bridge (all but one arch was carried off by floods at various points) is bathed in ever changing coloured lights in the evening and it’s very pretty.
Lungo il Tevere is open every night from about 8:30 and runs until the end of the month. There are entrances at Ponte Sisto, Ponte Garibaldi, Ponti Cestio and Ponte Sublicio. The best bit is around Tiber Island at the Ponte Cestio or Garibaldi entrances.
If you happen to be there tonight – 10 August – be sure to look up into the sky. It’s La Notte di San Lorenzo also known as the Night of the Shooting Stars. San Lorenzo was martyred near Rome on this day in 258 AD and the annual heavy star falling activity that occurs around now led the ancients to think that the falling stars were the tears of Lorenzo’s suffering. But that’s not the best story about Lorenzo. He was a deacon of Pope Sixtus 11 and when he was being roasted alive for refusing to hand over the church’s riches to the tyrant Valerian, he reportedly said, “I am done on this side, turn me over and eat.” Now that’s what I call a serious martyr. Today he’s the patron saint of firemen and bread makers. Um. Ick.
The shooting stars have to do with the Perseid meteor shower, which has been observed every year for at least the last 2000. Italians believe that if you wish upon a shooting star (a.k.a Lorenzo’s tears), your wish will come true.