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]

Padlocks Of Love Removed From Bridge In Rome

RomeOfficials in Rome have removed the so-called “padlocks of love” from the famous Ponte Milvio, the BBC reports. This is the latest phase of an ongoing struggle between the city and romantic couples that we’ve been reporting on since 2007.

It all started when Italian novelist Frederico Moccia wrote “I Want You,” in which a couple put a bicycle lock around the bridge’s lamppost and tossed the key into the Tiber as a symbol of their undying love. It soon became a fad and the locks became so heavy they actually broke the lamppost. After that people started putting locks all over the bridge.

The bridge was built over the Tiber River in 115 B.C. and was the site of the famous Battle of Milvian Bridge, in which the Emperor Constantine defeated his rival Maxentius to take over Rome, a move that was the beginning of the end of paganism.

Officials say rust from the locks is damaging the historic bridge. Putting a lock on the bridge carries a 50 euro ($51) fine. This is the second time the city has removed the locks. It probably won’t be the last.

Putting locks on landmarks has become a trend in other spots as well. Near where I live in Santander, northern Spain, couples do this on a railing by a cliff overlooking the sea. Is there a similar custom in your local area? Tell us in the comments section!

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]