Lungo il Tevere under the (shooting) stars

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.

Ponte Rotto Red

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.

Ponte Rotto Purple

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.


7 responses to “Lungo il Tevere under the (shooting) stars

  1. wish I was there!

  2. St. Lorenzo was a hottie! LOL! One of my favorite saint stories! I have him noted as the Patron saint of cooks – and he sits proudly on my kitchen wall! This is another great St. Lorenzo (St. Lawrence over here) story:

    As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested, he sought out the poor in Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels to increase the sum. When the Prefect of Rome heard of this, he sent for Lawrence and said, “You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures—the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him—only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words.”

    Lawrence replied that the Church was indeed rich. “I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory.” After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence said, “These are the treasure of the Church.” And so they are! 🙂

  3. I doubt that Lorenzo was martyred on 258 BC. This seems early for church business

  4. Good catch, Dr. R! No popes BC!
    P.S. I am not as scared of you as I used to be! ❤

  5. It’s not only Italians that believe in the wishes coming true on a shooting star. We Brits believe that too 🙂

  6. Pingback: Giuda ballerino! | My Life: Part Two

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