A sight admired by great artists, poets, and writers who made it a fixed stage in the Grand Tour, Marmore Waterfall reaches a height of 165 meters. It is a magnificent hydraulic work carried out during the Roman period, when it was decided to direct the waters of the large swamp created by the Velino river down beneath the mountain ridge, into the Nera. A work that was at the centre of ferocious disputes between the people of Rieti and Terni, the latter who feared their valley would be flooded.
After having conquered them, the consul Manio Curio Dentato became fond of the people of Rieti and wanted to rid their land from the swamps, and the only way to do so was to channel the waters that the Velino river took right up to the ravine, by making them drop into the Nera river below. The so-called Curiana quarry was then dug out: this was the third century before Christ. So the Marmore waterfall was born. This way the swamp, surrounded by thick woods considered sacred, in which temples were to be found dedicated to the goddess Velia and other pagan gods, site of sacred and magic rites. The lake remained, on whose shores the residential area by the name of Piediluco developed, that is a residential area born at the foot of a luco, a thick wood considered sacred by the Sabines.
Today, it is the main tourist attraction of the Terni basin, counting millions of visitors every year. Singular and suggestive the visual angles that the Waterfall, with its entire park, is able to offer. Footpaths which run along the waterfall and climb up along the mountain ridge; panoramic excursions with expert guides; canoeing and rafting are practised on the stretch of the river Nera rendered impetuous by the falling waters. In an atmosphere that encloses the power of nature, the intelligence of man, the singularity of the landscape, the early history. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Down in the valley, as compared to the waterfall, a hydraulic work which also dates back to Roman times, il Ponte del Toro, recently identified as a means of slowing down the waters of the Velino which flowed into the Nera, in an epoch preceding the realisation of the waterfall, running along a gully that can still be seen today. For centuries, visitors from every corner of Europe have been attracted to the Marmore waterfall, with its thunderous water and foaming waves, especially in the period when it was trendy among intellectuals to travel through Italy on the "Grand Tour", a journey to see and study the beauty of Italy. On the way to Rome, a detour to visit Marmore waterfall, praised by writers and poets (from Byron and Shelley to Goethe), was obligatory, painted by a long list of great and famous artists, stunned by the splendour of the scene. Pope Pio Vll was one of the first to be able to admire it from a specially built observation point, the observatory- named Pio Vl after him- which overlooks the cantilevered fall of the waters and which can be reached through a tunnel carved through the rock.
Beautiful scenery, but also symbol of industrial Terni whose appeal for investments and promote city industrialisation was mainly due to the availability of water and low-cost energy. Not by chance was a stilema of the Waterfall the logo of the Terni steelworks for decades.