The highest Tibetan bridge in Europe to turn the page on the 2016 earthquake in Italy – rts.ch

A Tibetan bridge of more than 500 meters was inaugurated this spring between two remote Italian villages which had been ravaged by the 2016 earthquake. This impressive work aims to bring tourists to the region and prevent the last inhabitants from fleeing.

It is the highest Tibetan bridge in Europe, at least among those used for the passage of pedestrians, and also one of the longest: perched at a height of 175 meters, the structure connects two small towns in Umbria, not far from Perugia, in central Italy.

This bridge, inaugurated in March, links Sellano and Montesanto like a tightrope walker’s wire. It overlooks one of the region’s most beautiful valleys in the green heart of Italy and offers dizzying views of Lake Vigi below.

Stop the fleeing of residents

This Tibetan bridge is intended above all to be a tourist attraction, but it must also allow us to turn a painful page in the history of the region. Sellano and Montesanto were in fact largely damaged by the violent earthquakes which shook the region in August and October 2016.

We needed something that had a strong enough appeal factor to put this village back on the map, before it disappears completely.

Roberto Battista, municipal councilor of Sellano

After this tragedy, many residents chose to leave these isolated villages and the authorities worked on a project to avoid complete desertion. “We needed something that had a strong enough attractiveness factor to put this village back on the map, before it disappears completely,” said Roberto Battista, municipal councilor of Sellano, in the 7:30 p.m.

The bridge connects the small towns of Sellano and Montesanto, in Umbria. [RTS]

The idea is also to definitively reconcile Sellano and Montesanto, who have been at war with each other for several centuries.

The work cost one and a half million francs and was financed entirely by the European recovery and resilience plan. “It is an important work from an engineering point of view, but without impacting nature,” explains the mayor of Sellano Attilio Gubbiotti. “The most important thing for us is to transmit our vision, that of sustainable tourism that respects our ecosystem.”

Thrills to attract tourists

To attract as many tourists as possible to this region located between Rome and Florence, we had to imagine something unique and offer thrills. To increase the adrenaline rate, the 1023 steps were spaced 30 centimeters from each other with a gaping hole between them.

To increase the sensations, empty spaces were left between the steps.

“When our body enters the void, it perceives this sensation and the inner ear sends a message to the brain to ask it ‘But where are you going?'”, explains guide Andrea Egidi.

It takes between 30 and 40 minutes to complete the crossing, suspended in the air, without forgetting the 68 meters of altitude difference at the end of the route, before the relief of feeling solid ground again. Every 60 meters, rest areas have also been set up for taking photos.

Since the inauguration in March, more than 17,000 tourists have already strolled across the bridge. To do this, visitors must pay 30 francs, money which is used entirely to finance jobs linked to the management of the bridge and the activities of the municipality.

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TV report: Valérie Dupont

Web adaptation: Frédéric Boillat

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