The first mention of the Marmore Falls in the history of literature goes back to the Roman period: Virgilio, in the VII book of the Aeneid, referred it “to a valley of dark forests and between the woods a river that rumbles and falls through great rocky masses ”.
Also Dante Alighieri in the XX song of the paradise writes: “seem to hear a murmur of a river – that falls bright from stone to stone”.
But it is only from the beginning of the XVII century (after the construction of the definitive and last Clementino channel) that the Waterfall begins to have a relevant role in figurative culture and in European poetics making a deep impression on the imaginary of the poets, drawers and painters, above all the painters of vedutas. Many travellers who came from Florence and were heading Rome for arrived at the Falls: the difficulties of visiting the place were overcome with the aid of guides that lead the traveller with horses beyond Villa Graziani until the panoramic view of Monte Pennarossa from where they could admire a superb view of the Waterfall.
Villa Graziani has always been a type of side-room of the Waterfall for all the famous visitors who stayed here: the imperial princess of the two Sicily’s, the king of Bavaria, Ferdinando II king of the two Sicily’s and many other painters and painters of vedutas such as Emil Corot who stayed for long periods in Valnerina.
The Neapolitan painter Salvatore Rosa is one of the first to testify his own admiration for the wonderful scenery, defining it as “a thing which brings to life every insatiable mind” and lays the foundation for the norm “horrified beauty” that would be emphasized by the romantic poets. The Falls conquered its definitive role in the figurative culture and in the poetic of the XII and XIX century thanks to the location of Terni in the Grand Tour, a travel that nobles and intellectuals made throughout Europe, leaving from Paris, crossing the centre of the France and Switzerland to arrive in Italy and complete their own cultural training and to deepen their studies.
The Falls became one of the beauties necessary to see; its rainbow was considered among one of the Italian wonders like Pompei and Vesuvius. This is why there are a lot of paintings and carvings dedicated to the Falls. Its defined fortune in the European culture was due to the poems of George Byron in the IV song “Pilgrimage of Child Harold” where it re-emphasizes the concept of “horrified beauty”:
Turn again and look! She comes forth
like eternity, to consume
all that she meets, with a shocking
and frightening look, unparallel cataract
In the travel and guide books, the Falls has been glorified for the roaring and richness of its waters, for the intensity of its rainbow, for its stunning thunder and for the surrounded landscape.
Only in the XX century it became the symbol of strength and of energy, to become in 1945, thanks to the painter of Terni Giuseppe Preziosi, the symbol of the Ternanan Society, the greatest industry in Terni and one of the main important Italian companies.