Rome – Centro Storico – some more statues and fountains

There are so many fountains in Rome (9,000+) that I had to write a second post. Please see the previous post for statues and fountains by Bernini and friends, this one is about some of the others.

Map of Centro Storico neighbourhoods here. City map here.

Surely the Fontana di Trevi is the world’s most famous fountain? It’s certainly one of the most iconic movie locations, thanks in no small measure to Anita Ekberg.

It was begun in 1732 by the Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762, although the individual sculptures are the creations of several other sculptors. The theme is ‘the taming of the waters’ with tritons (sea gods in the form of mermen) taming hippocampi (sea horses with the lower body of a fish). Standing over 26 metres high and nearly 50 metres wide, it’s the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. The crowds can get a bit much so I recommend going to see it first thing or late at night. See my Early Start post for more info.

I’m not big on crowds and queues so despite having been to Rome five times, there are several major sites I haven’t visited because it just takes too long to get in. The Pantheon is a case in point. As an architecture buff I really do appreciate the fact that, two thousand years after it was built, it still has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, and that it is a model for generations of later architects, but I don’t want to stand in a long line to see it.

The Fontana del Pantheon in the square out front is a bit easier to see although there are usually lots of people queueing to have their photos taken with it. Sculptor Leonardo Sormani constructed it using a 1575 design by the architect Giacomo della Porta. The Egyptian obelisk at its centre, originally one of a pair from the Temple of Ra in Heliopolis, was added in 1711. I love the funny ‘maschere’ (masks) and evil-looking dolphins that decorate the edge of the tub.

In Piazza di San Bernardo is the Fontana dell’Acqua Felice, aka the Fountain of Moses.

Designed by Domenico Fontana and built in 1585-88, it marks the end of the Acqua Felice aqueduct restored by Pope Sixtus V. I love the nonchalant lions spitting water from their mouths.

On the four corners of the crossroads of Via del Quirinale and Via delle Quattro Fontane, is Quattro Fontane, the four fountains.

On the corner of the church of San Carlino, a male river god with a cornucopia and a she-wolf alludes to the River Tiber while over the street a female figure, believed to be Juno, is pictured with a crouching lion. On the corner of Palazzo Mattei-Albani-Del Drago another male river god accompanied by a lion probably depicts the Arno river. The fourth fountain, in the direction of the Barberini garden, bears another female figure, proabably Diana, and the heraldic coat of arms of Pope Sixtus V. I couldn’t get a photo of this one though as it was obscured by a tour group. There are no pavements here so there’s not much room to stand and appreciate the beautiful carvings.

You’ll find fewer tourists at the Fontana delle Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain) which is hidden away in tiny Piazza Mattei in the Jewish Quarter. Built in since 1581, this jewel of Renaissance sculpture depicts four naked boys gleefully pushing turtles into the basin above their heads.

The Fontana dei Libri, the fountain of the books, is on Via Straderari, off Piazza Navona. It’s a relatively modern fountain, built in 1927 by Pietro Lombardi. The deer’s head is the symbol of the district of Sant’Eustachio and the four antique books are probably a reference to nearby Sapienza University.

More fountains and statues on my next trip!

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