11 May 2013

Tiber too dirty for tourist cruises in Rome

6:54 am on 11 May 2013

Tourist cruises along the Tiber River in Rome are suspended because the waterway is too dirty.

Rome Boats said tourists and residents were expecting navigation for the year to resume at Easter. But services are still suspended.

The last time the river was cleaned up was in 2008.

"We're ashamed of the Tiber's state of abandonment," said Mauro Pica Villa from the company on Thursday.

Stone embankments along the river are grey with pollution, the banks are strewn with rubbish and homeless people live under the bridges.

Former mayor Walter Veltroni launched the river cruises in 2003 and they were initially very successful, selling 40,000 tickets per year. They included tours about the history of Rome's bridges and romantic dinner cruises.

The Tiber runs 400km from the hills of Tuscany to the port of Ostia. It is Italy's third longest river.