The Tevere (Tiber) River running through Rome has long been a neglected resource. The tall walls lining each side were originally built to protect the city from flooding. Unfortunately, the walkways along each bank became receptacles for litter and havens for undesirable activity–a no-man’s-land. Recently, the city has begun to recognize it as an urban amenity and has added a designated bike lane, rails to push your bike down and up the steep stairs used to access it and cleaned up the litter. Now it is possible to bike many miles north and south (though there are still problems in the southern most parts of the city) and there are plentiful bike rentals nearby. It has become a place for jogging and strolling, people eating lunch and enjoying the outdoors. This, however, is exclusive to the west bank. The east bank continues to be derelict with few people and no improvements. One hopes that over time, the Romans will demand equal treatment for both sides of the river.
Perhaps equally importantly, portions of the west bank, particularly in proximity to the Castel Sant’ Angelo, have become a venue for political activism and community events. This demonstration, in support of immigrant rights, occurred while I was there. It included musical performances, speeches and the art installation in the river.