Isola Tiberina. ROME. II. R.ontheTiber(L.B.). 225
The Ponte Fabricio (PL II, 16), to the S.W. of the Palazzo Or¬
sini and the Theatre of Marcellus, which since the middle ages
has been called the Ponte de' Quattro Capi from the four-headed
hermae on the balustrades, is the oldest bridge now in Rome, having
been built in B.C. 62 by L. Fabricius, as the inscription records.
This bridge crosses an arm of the river (usually dry) to the Isola
Tiberina (PL II, 16), on which is a small piazza and the church of —
San Bartolomeo, erected, perhaps on the site of an ancient temple
ofiEsculapius, about the year 1000 by the Emp. Otho III. in honour
of St. Adalbert of Gnesen, and erroneously named St. Bartholomew.
The emperor had desired the Beneventans to send him the relics of
this saint, but received those of St. Paulinus of Nola in their stead.
The present church, the campanile excepted, is modernised and
uninteresting; facade by Martino Lunghi the Younger, 1625. The
interior contains fourteen ancient columns; in the choir, remains of
an early mosaic. In the centre of the steps leading to the pres-
byterium is the mouth of a well of the 12th cent., with sculptures.
The archway on the left side of the church leads to a small mortuary
chamber, resembling the Morgue at Paris. Below this is part of the an¬
cient bulwark of travertine which gave the island the appearance of a ship,
the mast being represented by an obelisk rising midway between the two
bridges. When the left arm of the Tiber is dry we may reach this point
by descending one of the flights of steps near the mortuary house. The
figure of a snake hewn on the bow of the ship is a reminiscence of the
story that the Romans, when sorely afflicted by the plague, sent for
^Esculapius from Epidaurus in B.C. 293, and that a snake, a reptile sacred
to the god, concealed itself in the vessel, and on reaching the harbour
escaped to this island, which was dedicated to jEsculapius in consequence.
The island was connected with Trastevere by the ancient Pons
Cestius (Gratiani; PL II, 18), which was erected soon after the Pons
Fabricius, restored by the Emperors Valentinian and Gratian, and
recently entirely rebuilt with the old stones, and lengthened by an
arch at each end. It is now called Ponte San Bartolomeo. — A few
paces along the right bank of the Tiber, crossing the Lungo Tevere
degli Anguillara, bring us to the Via della Lungarina (p. 358).
III. The Southern Quarters (Ancient Home).
This part of our description of Rome embraces the southern por¬
tion of the city, beginning with the Capitol, and extending east¬
wards as far as the Lateran: i. e. the hills of the Capitol, Palatine,
Aventine, Cselius, and the S. slope of the Esquiline. This was the
most important quarter of the Republican and Imperial city, but
lay waste and deserted from the early part of the middle ages down
to our own times. Recently it has lost much of its characteristic
aspect owing to the construction of new quarters, consisting largely
of tenement houses of the most Philistine appearance. It was at
one time hoped that a considerable part of it, extending from the
Baedekee. Italy IL 13th Edition. 15