In the heart of Umbria between valleys and forests is hidden a unique gem. In the neighborhood of hamlet Marmore, in the province of Terni, the river Velino plunges into the gorge below dug by the river Nera. The three spectacular jumps at a height of 165 meters give life to the suggestive Marmore Falls which are considered to be the highest artificial waterfalls in Europe.
The three waterfalls are included in the nature reserve Parco Naturale and all their beauty can be contemplate following the trails through the lush vegetation or stopping in one of the two viewpoints.
My aim is to give you some tips to make the most of this experience 😉.
How to reach the Marmore Falls and where to park the car
There are two entrances to the park: one at the foot of the waterfall, the Lower Belvedere, and one at the top, the Upper Belvedere. It is better to plan in advance from where you would like to start your visit in order to choose accordingly the respectively located parking lot.
In the peak season, from July to mid-September, you might have difficulty finding a spot in the parkings, so it is highly recommend to buy tickets online:
• P1 “Ex Viscosa”: price 8€, 400 metres from the Lower Belvedere (Belvedere Inferiore).
• P2 “Pasquale”: price 10€, 1 km from the Lower Belvedere (Belvedere Inferiore)
The optimal choice is to start exploring the waterfalls from the Lower Belvedere, from here you can enjoy with less effort the greater number of routes and you will be able to decide whether to climb up to the Upper Belvedere.
If you prefer to get to Marmore Falls by public transport you can take the train to the station of Marmore (near the Upper Belvedere) or get off at Terni and take bus E621 that will take you directly to the Lower Belvedere in about 20 minutes.
Opening hours of the Marmore Waterfalls:
In organizing your visit to the Marmore Falls you should consider that the park itself is open all year long but the waterfall, operating in its full capacity, can be seen only at predetermined times and days when the artificial dam that controls the flow is opened.
The opening hours change from month to month and also from day to day, so I refer you to the official page of the Marmore Falls with all opening hours.
The ticket for the Marmore Falls costs 12€ (free up to 5 years, reduced price 9€) and does not include the cost of parking and/or shuttle.
What’s the most appropriate clothing for the Marmore Falls:
In most cases it is enough to dress like when you go to a place where nature reigns supreme depending on the season and the weather of the day. However, even in summer period, it is essential to have with you a waterproof cape to keep your clothes safe from splashing water.
Believe me in some parts of the walk, because of the splashes of water, you will undergo a real “shower”, in particular, during the visit of the Balcony of Lovers, you’ll come out the other side soaking wet but with a smile on your face.
If you don’t have a rainproof jacket with you, at the ticket office you will have a chance to buy a poncho to wear in the areas closest to the water.
I would also advise you to bring a change of clothes and wear waterproof and slip-resistant shoes.
The routes within the Marmore waterfall park
Now that I have prepared you for the visit of the Marmore Falls in details it is time to enter this beautiful park and explore it all the way.
We start our route from the Lower Belvedere.
Here you find the two panoramic points of view – Piazzale Byron and Belvedere Torquato Secci – from where you can admire the Marmore Falls in all its majesty and power.
Follow A Access Control Byron Square
Byron Square is named after one of its most distinguished visitors, George Gordon Byron who was so impressed by the Marmore Falls, that defined it in his poem The Pilgrimage of Childe Harold as “horribly beautiful”.
We continue towards “Anello della Ninfa” (The Nymph’s ring) PATH N.2
Cross the characteristic “Iron Bridge”, pass in front of the restaurant picnic area and start to climb following the signs for Path 2, which is the closest path to the waterfall, simple and short.
In the first part there are wooden ladders and bridges. From here the view opens with a small but powerful waterfall hidden in the vegetation.
Other stairs lead you to another short dirt path that stands between the waterfall and the second jump, one of the most striking.
From this moment the path begins to descend and, through a series of ladders and dirt roads you will return to the starting point.
PATH N.3 “L’incontro delle acque” (The meeting of rivers)
You can head down towards Path 3. This short path through ladders and wooden bridges will lead you to the river Nera in the lower part of the waterfall.
You will immerse yourself in the dense vegetation of the park, accompanied by descriptive signs that will give you information about the different plants encountered along the path. From the balconies along the way you will be able to admire the gorges and rapids of the river.
PATH N.1 “Antico Passaggio” (Old Pathway), from the Upper Belvedere to the Lower Belvedere.
This path that connects the two Belvederes is the main path of the Park of Marmore Falls and can be walked from the top down or viceversa.
Length: 950 m – Difficulty: Medium-High – Walking time: 40 minutes (no stops)
Path N.1 is the hardest route because it takes place almost all uphill (about 600 steps) and you’ll not be able to admire the waterfall untill arrived at the top. The route runs parallel to the ancient road used by the locals to go to Marmore and its construction dates back to the second half of 1700.
However, it is right in the middle of the 1st path that you will find a dark and dripping tunnel carved into the rock that leads to the “Balcony of Lovers“. At the end of the tunnel you will be literally hit by a cloud of water vapour. The bravest can even step out onto the balcony overlooking the edge of the fall. Get ready for a real shower!
The visit to the balcony must be booked separately as visits are made only when the waterfall is in full reach, so check times and availability on the official website.
Besides, before booking, think whether you will be able to go up and down all those stairs.
The Upper Belvedere and Specola di Pio VI
Reached the top, at the edge of the Upper Belvedere, you will see the Observatory la Specola, a small observation tower built in 1781 by Pope Pius VI.
This is the privileged place to observe the rainbow of Marmore. The phenomenon is visible during special atmospheric conditions related to the presence of water vapor.
The viewpoints along the way are numerous and the stops will be more or less at every step!
Rafting experience at Marmore Falls
In the park is possible to engage in several activities of which the rafting is certainly one of the most fun and exciting. A perfect experience to combine contact with the nature and adrenaline rush with a rapid and steep descent.
The boarding point is located just below the waterfall. The rapids extend for over three kilometers and are level 4, on a scale ranging from 1 to 6. For the descent you will be provided with all the necessary equipment. The descent takes about an hour and depends on the weather.
For booking and info please refer to the official page.