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In the southern part of the Umbria region, almost to the Lazio border, lies the tallest man-made waterfall in the entire world: the Cascate delle Marmore. As if holding this record weren’t enough, the really astounding part of it is that the falls were created over 2,000 years ago.
Yes, that’s correct, the falls date to the year 271 BC. Those Romans were masters at mind-boggling engineering feats that are often unrivaled even today. At the time, disastrous floods were occurring due to the overflow of the Velino River which led to swampy, unsanitary conditions. This threatened the city of Rieti and so a solution was invented which would divert the stagnant waters to the natural travertine cliffs at Marmore.
Eventually, the problem reappeared forcing the construction of a new canal in the 1400s dubbed the “Rieti Trench” and once again, in the 1500s. Finally, in the late 1700s, the falls were given their present look and by the late 1800s, with the Industrial Revolution, were being used to generate power for the steel mills in Terni.
Today, the Marmore Falls are still used for hydroelectric power but are also a tourist attraction. 165 m (541 feet) of sheer power comes crashing down at scheduled times to wow visitors. Summertime is the best time to see the falls since they are open at night and have a spectacular LED light display that accompanies the rushing water. It is important to check the official website for the exact times that the park will be open as well as the scheduled times for the falls since it varies from month to month.
The park itself is amazing and contains numerous trails and botanical gardens as well as a lake. You can also camp in the park. The city of Terni is also completely worth visiting.
You can purchase your tickets online in advance as well as schedule a guided tour. Some tours, such as the Balcone degli Innamorati (“Balcony of Lovers”) are only available to purchase directly at the ticket office upon arrival.
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There is also a shuttle bus that runs every 30 minutes that will take you from the parking lot of the Upper Belvedere (Belvedere Superiore) to the Lower Belvedere (Inferiore).
Consult the official website (Italian only) for up-to-date information before your visit.