Rainbows, beautiful legends, green meadows, magic streams, stunning gorges, thick forests and – of course – the roar of the falling water… We are in Valnerina, one of the most picturesque parts of Umbria region, about one hour drive from Perugia.
The Nera River Park & the Marmore Falls
The Nera River Park, most commonly known as Waters’ Park, is as beautiful as a painting and offers a fascinating natural landscape, with lots of activities for the fun of the whole family. The most famous attraction of the Park is the Marmore Falls, a mass of water that falls from a height of about 165 metres, mentioned even by Byron: a breathtaking jump, which is a mix of natural beauty, human intelligence and fairytales.
Their origin, in fact, dates back to the Romans, who – to free the Rieti countryside from the marshes, drained the waters of the Velino river into the underlying Nera river.
I have to admit… I prefer the romantic side of the story. The legend says that there was once a nymph named Nera, who fell in love with a handsome shepherd called Velino. But Juno, jealous of this love, turned the nymph into a river, which took her name. Velino, who didn’t want to lose his beloved, threw himself from the Marmore cliff and his jump became the Marmore Falls…
How to organise the visit
You can decide to start your tour from the Upper Belvedere (in Italian, Belvedere Superiore)…
… or from the Lower Belvedere (Belvedere Inferiore).
The falls can be visited following one of the five routes available, each one with a different difficulty level and each of them leading to the heart of the waterfalls, allowing to observe the three jumps from unusual and fascinating viewpoints.
The easiest ones, therefore the most suitable for children, are Route n. 2 (a circular path which, in about 20 minutes, will take you, through little steps and small wooden bridges, right into the heart of the falls) and Route n. 3 (very similar to the previous one, will take you in about 20 minutes to the lowest part of the falls and along the narrow gorges of the Nera river).
Route n. 1 is one of the most challenging paths of the park and also the furthest from the falls. It is not really suitable for small kids, as it is quite long and steep. However, you could think to go through half of it, to enjoy the beautiful nature. Your children will love exploring its lush vegetation and hidden caves.
Also, half the way through, there is one of the most beautiful points of the Park: the Lovers Balcony. This is a little terrace situated at the end of a tunnel, from which you can stand behind the waterfalls and virtually touch the Velino river. The view is breathtaking, and the kids will go mad for it! Don’t forget to bring raincoats and rain boots for the whole family, or you will get seriously wet!
Kids animated tours & activities
The Enchanted Walk (Fantapasseggiata); it is an animated tour especially thought for children. Kids will be guided by Gnefro, the Elf of the Falls, through the most hidden places of the park, joyfully and interactively. It is necessary the advanced booking. The visit takes place along routes 2 and 3 and is uniquely suited to children aged 3 to 8 years.
Donkeys Tours: children can ride these sweet animals and explore the park, following the instructions of the guide. An unusual way to visit the Falls! Maximum weight allowed: 35 kg; age: from 3 years.
What we like
The views and the landscape are breath-taking, and there are lots of activities ideal for the whole family. Kids can nearly touch the falls, explore caves and woods, and admire beautiful rainbows. Not to be missed the Enchanted Walk for children and the Lovers Balcony.
What we don’t like
The crowd during weekends and the several souvenir shops at the Lower Belvedere.
Good to know
- How to get there: motorway A1 (Milan – Naples), exit at Orte, then E45 (Orte-Terni) and exit at Terni west. Or Motorway A14 (Bologna-Taranto), follow the Motorway E45 Cesena-Orte, direction Terni, exit at Terni west. To access the Lower Belvedere, follow directions to S.S. 209 Valnerina, towards Visso-Norcia-Cascia; after 7 kilometres you will arrive at the car park and the ticket office. To access the Upper Belvedere: follow directions to S.S. 209 towards Rieti; after 10 kilometres, near Marmore town, there is a car park and the ticket office.
- Where to park: large and free car parks available both at Upper and Lower Belvedere.
- Opening times: important! Please note that you should always check the opening hours of the area and when the water is released, before arranging your visit. You can find updated information here.
- Tickets: 8 euro; children between 6 and 12 years 5 euro; free for children up to 6 years old. Costs for the Enchanted Walk is 4.50 euro per child plus the ticket entrance ( the latter is free for children up to 5 years old). For parents the Enchanted Walk is free (they only pay the ticket entrance to the Falls).
- Children facilities: besides the Fantapasseggiata and the Donkeys Tours, there are lots of activities suitable for children. There a variety of guided tours ideal to the whole family: cave visits, night visits, botanical visits, and much more.
- What to do around: for those with a more adventurous feel, there are rafting, canoeing and canyoning opportunities. For the whole family: Soft Rafting, open to all, including children and non-swimmers; Hydrospeed-soft, surrounded by nature, in full contact with the river and helped by a “bob water” you can go down the soft stretch of the Black River in complete safety, always accompanied by a guide; Tubing-soft, another fun way to get down the stretch soft, slightly above the water level and independently supported by a guide that explains the trajectories. For more information: Rafting Marmore
For more information and bookings
Piazzale Felice Fatati 6
05100 Collestatte Piano (TR) -Umbria, Italy
(Address for SatNav: Piazzale Vasi – Collestatte Piano – Terni)
Vocabolo Cascata 30
05100 Marmore (TR),
(Address for SatNav: Terni – Marmore)