Rome Suspends River Cruises Because Tiber Too Polluted

Visitors to Rome this year won’t be able to cruise along the Tiber River, which weaves through the city, because it has become “strewn with rubbish,” according to a representative of Rome Boats, the company that controls the river tours.

In an interview with AFP, Rome Boats’ Mauro Pica Villa said there would be no tours because the tour operators would be “ashamed” to show the Tiber in its current state. He described the embankments as “grey with pollution” and the trees that line the river as covered in plastic bags and other rubbish. The last time the Tiber was cleaned was in 2008, and the river suffers from bureaucratic idiosyncrasies that have shuffled the responsibility for its care away from the city government.

This is a good thing. Not the pollution – the tour cancelation. Though quite popular at their launch a decade ago, a Tiber tour is generally a terrible idea. Unlike on a cruise down the Seine in Paris, it’s difficult to appreciate much of Rome from the deeply set and narrow Tiber. The tour is a good way to see Rome’s bridges, but the remainder of it is spent gawking up at the ugly grim parapets that line the banks. Because the walls are so high (or the Tiber so low, really), you can’t see much of Rome this way.

Hopefully the Tiber gets cleaned up, but the best way to see Rome and its iconic river is still by foot along its banks.

[Photo credit: Flickr user The Wolf]