The Sights and Significance of Italy’s Most Famous Waterfall – The Cascata Delle Marmore

One of the most famous and awe-inspiring views of nature is the humanmade waterfall of Cascata Delle Marmore. Its existence is a testament to human architecture and engineering as the Romans constructed the falls in 271 B.C. The Cascate Delle Marmore is located 7.7 kilometers from Terni, the capital of the Umbria region of Italy. The waterfall is composed of three tiers, the tallest being 83 meters or 272 feet. In total, the falls have a height of 165 meters or 541 feet, making it the tallest manmade waterfall in the world. The river by the name Velino is the primary source of the waterfalls, and they cascade down into a valley and meets with the waters of the Nera river.

Creation by the Romans

During ancient times, the Velino river flowed around the city of Rieti. However, the river fed into marshes and wetlands with stagnant water. This area was said to have been the cause of sickness, probably malaria, that plagued the city. That is why in 271 B.C., the Romans wanted to construct a canal. The canal diverted the flow of the river into the cliffs of Marmore to meet with the Nera, thus creating the Cascata Delle Marmore. However, the abundant flow of the Velino caused floods in the nearby city. The situation was so problematic that it became an issue for the senate in 54 B.C. The senators found no workable solution and the flooding persisted until the late 19th century.

Modern Significance

Since the 15th century, various popes tried to address the problematic flooding of Terni by the waters of the Velino river to no avail. It was in 1896 that at the heights of the Industrial Revolution, when a sustainable answer to the problem presented itself. During this time, several steel mills thought of utilizing the flow of the water in the Trench to help with their operations. After this breakthrough, engineers have worked on the falls and the canal to use the abundant water from the river into hydroelectric energy. This is used to fuel the Galleto power plant which was constructed in 1929. This resulted in a significant reduction in the flow of the falls, also with Piediluco lake.

Viewing the Waterfalls

The existence of the nearby power plant did not stop tourists from having time to admire the falls for an entrance fee. The power plant schedules an hour or two when tourists could see the Cascate Delle Marmore in full power. They run from 12 noon to 1 pm and 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm every day. During the holidays they have more viewing schedules.

Before the gates are opened, the plant sounds an alarm. Afterward, the little stream that is left of the Velino transforms into a full-fledged river. Guests can expect to get wet during this time that is why it is advised that they view the waterfalls from a safe distance in a nearby observatory. This vantage point also provides a spectacular sight of the valley.