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Isola Tiberina
ISOLA TIBERINA (previously called Lycaonia, of St. Bartolomeo, of two bridges)
The Tiberina island, formerly simply called "Insula" [island] or "Insula inter duos pontes" [island between two bridges], afterwards was also called "Lycaonia" in the Middle Ages (perhaps because of a statue on Ponte Cestio representing that region of Asia Minor that became province on 373 AD) and "of St. Bartolomeo" (from the church on the island) on '600-'700.
Generated, according to legend, by the mud amassed on the Tarquinio il Superbo crops, thrown to the river by the Romans when they expelled the king from the town, really the island is tufaceus, like the hills near Rome.
Natural ford, it was essential to the erection of permanent installations on the surrounding heights and will be connected to the banks by two bridges, at first wooden and then (1st century) masonry (present Fabricio and Cestio bridges) connected by a road (vicus Censorii).
Cult place for various gods, it was mainly dedicated to Medicine God Esculapio, whose snake, brought to Rome from Epidauro in order to defeat the plague of the 293 b.C., jumping from the ship that carried it, came down the Tiber from the Navalia of Campo Marzio up to the Island, disappearing then in the place where the new temple was built, and inaugurated in the 289 b.C. Around the temple, as well as at Epidauro, probably there was porches to shelter the sick believers, and is surely singular that the island continued to be place of cure and center of a hospital through the Middle Ages up to now.
Other minor sanctuaries was located at the northern side of the island: those of Fauno and Veiove, both dedicated in the 194 b.C., were probably close one to the other; a sacellum of Iuppiter Iurarius (oath guarantor) rose in correspondence of the small church of St. Giovanni Calibita, where a mosaic with the name of the divinity was found. From an inscription was deduced also the cult of Bellona, known as Insulensis.
The legend and the island profile suggested to arrange of the external perimeter in shape of war ship, with the embankments equipped for the moorings and with an obelisk as main tree, two fragments of which are in the National Museum of Naples and a third one in Munchen. It was entirely built in travertine, 280 m long and 76 wide.
In the Middle Ages the plunder and the general disgrace of the river modified the island appearance with the separation of a smaller island upstream (joined again on 1791); on the end of the 1500 the sanitary tradition of the island, thanks also to the presence of a water source considered healthy, was renewed by the construction of the first nucleus of hospital (1548) and all the area became lazaret during the 1656 plague.
Deeply disfigured due to the new arrangement of the banks at the end of the 1800 (when it was even assumed to eliminate it), the modification of the Cestio bridge and the reconstruction of the hospital, it has however maintained the character of set apart cult and cure place.
The upstream platform end has been recently extended and connected to the middle pier of Garibaldi bridge in order to better regulate the water flow.