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Augustus Hare on the Bridges of Narni

[image ALT: In the foreground, a colossal ruined bridge of which only one arch and a pier remain intact on opposite sides of the river; in the background, a medieval bridge with a single disproportionately tall tower.]

"Few ravines are more full of beauty than the deep narrow gorge below Narni, broken here and there by masses of grey rock, elsewhere clothed with the richest green of ilex, cork, phillyrea, arbutus, mastick and flowering heath. Just at the entrance of the glen, the famous Bridge of Augustus, which is considered to surpass all other bridges in boldness, carried the Via Flaminia over the ravine of the Nera, the Nar of classical times. Originally the bridge had three arches, of which one on the right bank is entire, and sixty feet in height. Martial alludes to it as the pride of the place in his days, when he accuses Narni, by its superior attractions, of taking away his neighbour Quintus Ovidius from his Nomentan farm. The bridge is now a grand ruin, ivy and shrubs garlanding its mighty parapets.

Close to the Roman ruin is an old medieval bridge guarded by a high gate tower, almost equally picturesque."

Cities of Central Italy, II.314‑315

[image ALT: In the foreground, a watchtower about 15 meters tall, with an arch thru it leading onto a 5- or 6‑arched medieval bridge receding from us. On the far bank, a medieval town rises on some fairly steep hills, dotted with towers, churches and cypresses.]

Thayer's Note:

Allowing for artist's license and simplification — the very vegetation he praises gets in the way of showing the bridge properly — Augustus Hare's sketch remains substantially accurate today, except for one thing: the medieval bridge no longer exists. I believe it was flattened by one of the many American bombing raids on the area in World War II, but am still searching for confirmation of this. In the upper sketch, I've greyed it out.

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Page updated: 5 May 01