The Tiber River has run through Italy's capital city since ancient Roman times, and Tiber Island has a history that’s just as long. Once the site of the ancient temple of Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine, the island is where Romans have sought healing for centuries.
Tiber Island is situated in the Tiber River in Rome, just south of the Centro Storico between the former Jewish ghetto on the east bank and Trastevere on the west bank. There are two historic pedestrian bridges that connect the island to the river banks: Ponte Cestio and Ponte Fabricio, one of the oldest bridges in the city. The island, which has had a strong connection with medicine since antiquity, is where ailing Romans were often sent for treatment or quarantine. Today, one of Rome's main hospitals is still located here, as is the historic Church of San Bartolomeo all'Isola.
Tiber Island is often included in Rome walking or Segway tours that cover the Jewish ghetto or Trastevere. You can also explore the island during a hop-on-hop-off river cruise, a bus tour of Rome highlights (including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican), or a private tour that’s paired with the Basilica of St. Nicholas, whose underground excavations have uncovered ancient Roman temples dating back to the 5th century BC.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Guided tours of Tiber Island include a fair amount of walking, so wear comfortable shoes and a sun hat.
- The island, which measures only 885 feet by 220 feet (about 4.5 acres), is easy to explore as part of a small-group tour that also covers Trastevere or the Jewish ghetto.
- Trastevere and the Jewish ghetto are both known for their culinary scenes, so a food tour that includes a stroll through Tiber Island is a fun, family-friendly way to explore the area at large.
How to Get There
Tiber Island, located in the Tiber River, is accessible by pedestrian bridge either from Trastevere or the Jewish ghetto.
When to Get There
As part of the Estate Romana, a series of outdoor summer events (including concerts and open-air markets) held along the Tiber River, the island hosts a film festival in the warmer months (June to September).
The Origin Story of Tiber Island
According to folklore, when the much-maligned tyrant Lucius Tarquinius Superbus died in 510 BC, his body was tossed into the Tiber River; silt built up over his corpse and eventually formed the mass that’s now Tiber Island.