Europe’s highest pedestrian suspension bridge opens in Italy

Rome: It’s known as the green heart of Italy because of its forested hills and landlocked location. But the region of Umbria, in central Italy, is about to become the beating heart of the country – or, even, the very fast beating heart – thanks to its new tourist attraction.

A new pedestrian footbridge suspended across a ravine is said to be the highest of its kind in Europe, slung 175 meters, or 574 feet, above the void.

It connects two picture-perfect locations: Sellano, a medieval village about an hour southeast of the regional capital Perugia, and Montesanto, a hamlet on the other side of the Vigi river in the Valnerina valley.

The walk – just under half a mile long – takes around 30-45 minutes to complete.

The adrenalin doesn’t just come from being suspended over the chasm, however – or from the 223 foot incline rising up towards Montesanto. The so-called “ponte tibetano” (“Tibetan bridge”) adds extra thrills with its paving slats set apart – known as a “discontinuous tread.”
With around 1,000 steps to cross the nearly half-mile bridge, set down your foot in the wrong position and things could get a bit “Squid Game,” were it not for the harnesses that will keep visitors attached to the bridge at all times.

Mayor of Sellano Attilio Gubbiotti told Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper that the idea was to “revitalize the area and stave off depopulation.” Eastern Umbria, where the bridge is located, was at the heart of a series of devastating earthquakes in central Italy in 2016.

Some villages in the area, such as Castelluccio – a farming village on the border with the neighboring Marche region – were destroyed entirely, with locals still unable to return to their homes. Gubbiotti shared hopes that the bridge will bring new business to the area.

The bridge, which opened in time for the Easter holiday weekend, takes a maximum of 90 visitors per hour-long slot. Reservations are currently open until May 5.

Visitors must wear suitable footwear, and must be 120cm tall, or just under 4 feet. Tickets are available online.

For obvious reasons, bad weather might close the site. But if they do, there’s plenty more to do in the area. Sellano is listed as one of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” – a group of exceptionally pretty villages in the country.