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Fountains of Rome



From the simple “nasoni”, scattered along the streets and squares, to the fountains that tell stories and legends, Rome offers a series of bewildering water games. Here we will present an itinerary that leads to the discovery of the most beautiful fountains of Rome. 

The itinerary begins with one of the masterpieces of the Baroque Gian Lorenzo Bernini: the impressive Fountain of the four Rivers, situated in the centre of Piazza Navona. Realized in the middle of the 17th century, the work is dedicated to the four major rivers known at the time (the Danube, the Nile, the Ganges and the Rio de la Plata), allegorically embodied by imposing statues of men. 

It takes just a few minute’s walk through the streets of the old town centre to reach piazza Mattei where it is possible to find a real jewel of the late Roman Renaissance, the refined Fountain of the Turtles, which is located in one of the few squares of the Jewish Ghetto, and attracts a lot of tourists. Created by Taddeo Landini, the work was modified by Bernini, who added the little turtles after which the fountain is named. 

The third stopover is the famous Trevi Fountain, which can be easily reached walking through via del Corso for about five hundreds meters and then turning left onto via delle Muratte. The fountain, whose fame is due to Fellini’s film “La Dolce Vita” is one of the most renowned places in Rome, where the tourists crowd every day for the ritual toss of the coin in order to come back to the Eternal City.

The Trevi Fountain is one of the most beautiful and impressive monument in Rome. It represents a chariot in shape of shell carried by two horses, joked by two tritons. In the middle there is the statue of Ocean God, carved by Pietro Bracci, while the statues of Abundance and Health, by Filippo Della Valle are located in lateral niches. In the upper side, there’s the relief of the roman general Agrippa that commands the construction of the acqueduct of  the Virgin, hence the name to the Aqua Virgo acqueduct; the second relief  on the right represents a young lady (the allegory of water, virgin and pure) who shows the source to a knelt soldier. The original project, dating 1700, is Nicola Salvi’s and is an amazing example of sculpture and achitecture that recalls the Baroque art. Today the Fountain still brings water from the Virgo Acqueduct built in the I century BC.. Its famous legend holds that he who tosses a coin in the water with the right hand, over his own left shoulder, back to the fountain, is expected to return to Rome again.

Through some of the main shopping streets of Rome, it is possible to get to another typical fountain of the capital. At the foot of the 137-step staircase of Trinità dei Monti, in Piazza di Spagna is situated the Fontana della Barcaccia. The boat was designed by Pietro Bernini, father of Gian Lorenzo, and was conceived also for maximizing the low pressure of the water in that point of the city. 

A few meters away, in via del Babuino, we reach the end of this itinerary, here we can see the small, but characteristic mountain that gives its name to the street. The ape-man placed above the basin is one of the famous talking statues that enliven some historical squares in Rome.

Although excluded from the itinerary, the fountain of Acqua Paola cannot be omitted. Situated on the Janiculum, just a few meters from the Academy of Spain, the “fontanone” (as the Romans call it) and the view it offers is an obligatory for all the tourists who visit Rome.



Fontana del Mascherone

It’s isn’t far from the façade of  Farnese palace, it was built on wish of Farnese family in the XVII century and realized by Girolamo Rainaldi,  an architect who realized the twin fountains on Farnese place.

The fountain has a rectangular, porphyry basin and a great mask with the wide open eyes. It is said, that during the period of the influential Farnese family, some wine came out, on occasion of special holidays or ceremonies, and in 1729 it was considered the last leak of wine, during the celebration for the election of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta.



Fountain of the Naiades

In the past it was a circular pool with the borders of stones, and from which jets of water poured out. Pope Pius IX in 1870 had the idea of renewing the fountain  to celebrate the conclusion of the works executed in the area, named “Acqua Marcia”. At first he commissioned it to the architect  Alessandro Guerrieri. The Pope was not satisfied with him, therefore the work was commissioned to Mario Rutelli, who completed it in 1901. It was a controversial work, especially during the period of the Rome of Popes (1800), because it was considered too much sexy, probably because of their 4 females figures of bronze, which represent 4 Nymphs (young girls); the Nymph of the Lakes, who holds a swan, the Nymph of the Rivers on a monster of the rivers, the Nymph of the underground waters on a dragon, and the Nymph of the Oceans riding a horse of the sea, all enriched with jets of water. It is one of the most beautiful fountains in Rome.



Fontana dei Dioscuri

It is situated in the middle of Piazza del Quirinale, the fountain is called also Fontana di Monte Cavallo, commissioned by Pope Sixtus V (in 1588), who moved the two Dioscuri (with their horses) from  the Temple of the Sun into the place. An octagonal basin of white marble was added, a work by Domenico Fontana. In 1783 Pius VI introduced the obelisk,  formerly situated in the Mausoleum of August, with the help of the architect Giovanni Antinori. In 1818, Pope Pius VII replaced with the help of Raffaele Stern the previously basin with a great basin of granite 25 metres of circumference, one of the  4 basins which decorated the ancient baths of Nero.




Fontana del Moro

The Moor Fountain (located at the southern of the Piazza Navona), commissioned by pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni, who increased the flow of water towards the place (taking it from the Aqueduct of Acqua Paola), by promoting in that way the introduction of plays of water  in the fountains. The project was commissioned to Giacomo Della Porta in 1574, designer of the Fountain of Neptune at the other side of the place. He was helped  by Bartolomeo Gritti and by a team of sculptors and stone-cutters, which made the decorations, dolphins, tritons, masks of faces and animals or shells, a repertoire coming from the classical times but in demand in that time. In 1653, pope Innocent X Pamphilj, redecorated it, commissioning it to Bernini. The sculpture in the middle which takes its name to the fountain, was designed by Bernini but carried out by Giannantonio Mari (1655), the statue should represent a muscular triton who subdues a dolphin, but it was mistaken for Moor for its somatic features. During the restoration of 1874 the 4 tritons and the four masks were replaced by copies by Luigi Amici, the original statues are situated in some municipal warehouse.



Triton Fountain

Executed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini between 1642 and 1643, of travertine, it was commissioned by pope Urban VIII Barberini, as deduced from the bees on the twisted tails of the four dolphins, coat of Barberini family, and it was situated in a deserted land, but former estate of Barberini famiy. The theme of the fountain is nature and it is related to the sea world, with dolphins, shells and tritons. Each of such elements is very secluded from the others, but the element which joins them together is water, the idea of the triton comes from the Fountain of the Eagle situated in the Vatican gardens. It is very original the way Bernini joins all the elements in an organized system. Bernini wants to take nature in an urban background and in a deserted land for the delight of the nobles and of the lower people. The recent restoration of the fountain has improved the fountain.



Fountain of Neptune

It was designed with the fountain of lions by the architect Giuseppe Valadier, it is situated in the middle of piazza del popolo, in order to improve the north side of the city. It was completed in 1823 and it has a great semicircular basin of travertine, in the upper part there is a great valve of shells,  which collects the water poured from a little cup set on the top of it. The fountain is decorated with a great group of sculptures designed by Giuseppe Valadierma and carved by Giovanni Ceccarini, where the main element  is a statue portraying Neptune with his trident, at its foot there are two statues of tritons leaned on the dolphins. Recently restored.



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