Cascata delle Marmore

Terni / Narni, Terni Province, Italy

About Cascata delle Marmore


Hiking Distance: 600m round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2013-05-22
Date last visited: 2013-05-22

Waterfall Latitude: 42.55295
Waterfall Longitude: 12.71498

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Cascata delle Marmore (Waterfall of the Marmore) was probably one of Italy’s more famous waterfalls.

We sensed it was famous because it was one waterfall where it seemed like most Italians that we encountered on our trip had either known about it or at least heard of it.

Cascata_della_Marmore_042_20130522 - Cascata delle Marmore
Cascata delle Marmore

The falls also seemed to have gained quite a bit of notoriety internationally as well.

Yet despite its apparent fame, the quirky thing about this waterfall was that it was essentially a creation by the Romans!

Romans and the Cascata delle Marmore

Although we tend to be down on waterfalls that are artificial or man-made, in this instance (like in the case of Oxararfoss in Iceland), there was a bit of history tied to it.

In particular, the Velino River was diverted in 271 BC because its flow was believed to have caused illness to the nearby city of Rieti.

It was speculated that the Romans were correct in their line of reasoning as the river’s outflow drained into marshlands neighboring the city.

Cascata_della_Marmore_009_20130522 - Cascata delle Marmore in full flow looking against the sun, which was actually not a good time for photographs
Cascata delle Marmore in full flow looking against the sun, which was actually not a good time for photographs

Thus, those swamps were believed to have been spawning grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

By the way, Rieti also happened to be the city where NBA player Kobe Bryant attended school between 1984-1992 and was said to be where he developed his fluency in Italian.

Flow Control of the Velino River and the Cascata delle Marmore

Anyways, since then, the flow had been modified and utilized for both flood control and hydroelectricity (which is its current utilization).

For this reason, we had to time our visit to ensure that we would see Cascata delle Marmore flow as its waters would be released at specific scheduled times.

During our visit, we knew the waters would be released between noon and 1pm on weekdays, but it turned out that the water release times vary depending on the month and whether it’s a holiday (festivi) or it’s on a weekend.

Cascata_della_Marmore_040_20130522 - Cascata delle Marmore just when the waterflow was starting to turn off
Cascata delle Marmore just when the waterflow was starting to turn off

For the most up-to-date information on the water release schedule, we’ve provided a link to a schedule of Cascata delle Marmore.

As for the experience of viewing the Cascata delle Marmore, we felt that this was an instance where less was more.

We say this because during the scheduled release of the water over the cliff, we witnessed that there was too much mist being thrown up in the air combined with the midday sun causing bright reflections.

The end result was that the main tier (the uppermost drop) was not visible in this state as it was shrouded in the mist.

It wasn’t until after 1pm when the waterflow was being reduced that we felt the falls was at its scenic best.

Cascata_della_Marmore_057_20130522 - Cascata delle Marmore when the waterflow was even more turned off a few minutes later
Cascata delle Marmore when the waterflow was even more turned off a few minutes later

By that time, the main drop wasn’t as shrouded in mist and thus revealed itself.

So given our observations, perhaps late afternoon might be a good time to view the falls on a sunny day (as sometimes the waters would be released between 4-5pm).

Moreover, full flow would not necessarily be the best time for viewing if the river had high volume so it might be worth waiting for the start of the waterflow to be shut off.

The waterfall can also be seen with floodlighting in the evening if it was a festival day (holiday) as the Cascata delle Marmore would be allowed to run until 10pm.

Experiencing Cascata delle Marmore

As for walking to the Cascata delle Marmore, we started off by paying for admission at the biglietteria (ticket office; we paid 8 euros per person) for the lower car park area (see directions below).

Cascata_della_Marmore_002_20130522 - After purchasing our tickets to the Cascata delle Marmore, we then backtracked along a wide walkway as we approached the entrance
After purchasing our tickets to the Cascata delle Marmore, we then backtracked along a wide walkway as we approached the entrance

Then, we walked for roughly 300m or so along a wide and paved walkway to the entrance kiosk.

After showing our paid admission there, we then continued on the paved walkway, which passed right before the impressive multi-tiered Cascata delle Marmore.

During the time the water was released, there was enough mist being generated to spray much of that walkway.

The walkway then continued beyond the waterfall and eventually joined with some trails that ultimately led up to the top of the waterfall.

Cascata_della_Marmore_017_20130522 - Julie approaching the very misty Cascata delle Marmore
Julie approaching the very misty Cascata delle Marmore

We didn’t go do the trail to the top given that we thought the falls only had one hour to flow, and we thought it would take too long to do the hike within the perceived time limit.

However, in hindsight, we probably should have done it as we realized that we weren’t as time constrained as originally thought.

After all, the waterfall still had satisfactory flow even after the flow was reduced from its peak flow after 1pm.

In addition to the walkway with the open air view of the Cascata delle Marmore, there were also stairs leading to a more sheltered area with archways providing a slightly less misty viewing experience.

Cascata_della_Marmore_020_20130522 - Inside the sheltered walkway, which blocked most of the mist coming from the Cascata delle Marmore when it was in full flow
Inside the sheltered walkway, which blocked most of the mist coming from the Cascata delle Marmore when it was in full flow

There were actually benches down there to relax and take in the scenery though every once in a while the winds would shift and allow some of the waterfall’s mist to blow right into the sheltered area.

Overall, Julie and I spent about 90 minutes at just the lower viewing area.

However, much of that time was spent sitting and relaxing.

So it would be conceivable that a visit here could be as short as a half-hour or so.

However, if one were to go for the full experience (seeing both upper and lower viewpoints), then we can easily envision how two hours might be the minimum amount of time to devote to a visit here.

Authorities

Cascata delle Marmore (or the Marmore Waterfall) resides near in the city and province of Terni, Italy. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit the Terni Tourism Board website.

Cascata_della_Marmore_001_20130522 - Entrance to a small market area preceding the ticket office and shop for Cascata delle Marmore
Cascata_della_Marmore_033_20130522 - The entrance kiosk at the start of the walkway in front of the Cascata delle Marmore
Cascata_della_Marmore_003_20130522 - As we got closer to Cascata delle Marmore, the main drop became harder to see amidst the blinding and abundant mist
Cascata_della_Marmore_015_20130522 - The misty and wet walkway passing before Cascata delle Marmore in full spate during the dam release
Cascata_della_Marmore_019_20130522 - Julie descending into a lower walkway that was sheltered from most of the mist from the Cascata delle Marmore
Cascata_della_Marmore_022_20130522 - Looking back across the outside of the sheltered walkway towards some of the lower tiers of Cascata delle Marmore
Cascata_della_Marmore_037_20130522 - After 1pm, this was how Cascata delle Marmore looked.  We thought it looked far more photogenic in this state than when it was in full flow
Cascata_della_Marmore_045_20130522 - A more unusual look at Cascata delle Marmore in diminishing flow since we were no longer inundated by mist
Cascata_della_Marmore_050_20130522 - Looking back at some wider lower tiers of Cascata delle Marmore from the far right side of the walkway passing before it
Assisi_028_20130522 - Charming medieval architecture with panoramic views were some of the main draws of Assisi, which was over an hour's drive north of Cascata delle Marmore (which we went to right after our waterfall visit)
Assisi_040_20130522 - Some of the charming streets of Assisi
Assisi_062_20130522 - The centerpiece of Assisi was this basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi
Assisi_072_20130522 - It was definitely worth going inside the basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi to see the elaborate interior even though picture taking was prohibited in most of the interior
Assisi_107_20130522 - View of Assisi from outside its city walls

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The nearest city to Cascata delle Marmore is Terni (which is also the provincial capital of Umbria).

We reached the city by taking the A1 autostrada north of Rome then junctioning with the E45 (non-tolled) autostrada right into the city.

The waterfall is said to be 7.5km from the city.

Fortunately, once the E45 autostrada ended as it became SS675 as it entered the city of Terni, there were numerous brown signs at traffic lights and roundabouts for Cascata delle Marmore.

Therefore, they helped us to navigate around the city and onto the correct roads to one of the two main parking areas (lower and upper falls).

We ended up going straight to the car park for the lower viewing area, but I understand that there were free shuttle buses linking the lower and upper viewing areas so either choice you make should be fine.

According to our GPS tracks, we swung around the southern end of Terni (following the signs for the falls the whole way), which then took us onto SS209.

That state road eventually took us to the lower (“inferiore”) parking area.

For some geographical context, the city of Terni was 14km east of Narni, 77km (60-90 minutes drive) south of Assisi, 103km (over 90 minutes drive or 1 hour by train) north of Rome, and 165km (about 2 hours drive) north of Frosinone (where we began our drive after visiting Isola del Liri).

Right to left sweep of the lower sections of the falls before panning up into the misty and blinding upper tier that was mostly hidden from us due to the force of the water creating that mist when it was released


Right to left sweep from the main walkway showing the falls when the water level was starting to get lower due to the water being shut off, but at least it revealed the uppermost tier


Right to left sweep of the falls from the far right side of the main walkway

Tagged with: terni, umbria, narni, italy, waterfall, regulated, hydroelectric, historical, marmore, romans



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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