Not many rivers can boast an island, but the Tiber has one that is linked to the city of Rome by two bridges. In fact one of them, the Ponte Fabricio, is the oldest bridge in the Eternal City, built in the 1st century BC and still in use! The other bridge, Ponte Cestio, is slightly "newer" but still built in the Roman era.
The little island is home to a hospital, on the site where a temple once stood to Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing. It is said to have been established there on the island to protect the rest of the population from the plague-ridden or sickly people who would have gone to the temple to seek healing. Eventually, a hospital was established to treat the sick. The current hospital was built in 1584 and is still in operation by the Order of St. John of God, known at the "Fatebenefratelli" (do good brothers).
There is also a basilica dedicated to St. Bartholomew and some little narrow streets tucked in on the compact island. Cross the ancient bridge for a unique view of the city from the river, and pass over the second bridge to the other side.
Legend holds that Tiber Island formed when angry Romans, upset at the King Tarquinius, raided his fields, cut the wheat that was growing and plunged it into the depths of the river, where the bulk settled and formed the foundation of the island.
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