The Testaccio Fountain or Pius IX Fountain is located in the Lungotevere Testaccio in Rome. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Pius IX, to celebrate (and brag about) having the walls along the river Tiber constructed.
Testaccio Fountain Rome (or Pius IX Fountain)
History and description
The Fontana di Pio IX a Testaccio in the district of the same name was built in 1869, when Pius IX Mastai was Pope. The fountain is dedicated to the archaeologist Pietro Ercole Visconti, in gratitude for excavating large quantities of marble objects that would later be used to decorate the town’s buildings.
The basin itself is a Roman sarcophagus dating back to the third century AD. The water flows from a lion’s head, which is embedded in brick the wall against which the sarcophagus stands. The wall itself is flanked by marble pillars. At the very top you can see the coat of arms of the Pope.
Above the lion’s head is a wide memorial plaque with an inscription in Latin claiming that Pope Pius IX, in the 23rd year of his pontificate, recovered the steps of the Emporium and, by means of a wall built by himself, made them usable for the people. (The Emporium was the old, now non-existent harbour in what is now the present-day Testaccio district).
During the turn of the century the fountain was severely damaged in a failed robbery.
The Trevi Fountain is one of the top 10 tourist attractions in Rome and really ought to be seen not once, but twice. During daytime the fountain is already an impressive monument, but it is at its most imposing after midnight, when the crowds have returned to their hotels and there are but few people left to admire this brightly lit baroque masterpiece. Throw a coin into the fountain and you are sure to return to Rome one day. Throw yourself into the water and you will be fined.
Trevi Fountain Rome
History and description
One of the most famous scenes in the history of world cinema making is the one in Fellini‘s La Dolce Vita where Anita Ekberg invites Marcello Mastroianni to join her in the Trevi Fountain.
In reality it is severely forbidden to enter the water of the Fontana di Trevi, which was designed by the architect Nicola Salvi by order of Pope Clement XII.
The Trevi Fountain (height 26m and width 22m) is, as is the case with several churches and monuments in Rome, located at the spot where there used to be a well. It was called Trevi because the square it faces is called Trevi and the square is called Trevi because three streets (“tre vie“) used to lead to it.
The statue to the right of the fountain depicts a virgin who had told a soldier where the well was to be found.
The statue dominating its center depicts the Sea God Neptune on a shell-shaped chariot. Two winged horses pull him towards the ocean. The horses, one calm and one restless, personify the two aspects of the sea.
The niches on either side of the fountain contain statues personifying “Health” and “Abundance”.
The fountain is built agains the back of the historic building Palazzo Poli. It was, and still is, fed by the Acqua Vergine Aqueduct.
Trevi Fountain Do’s and Dont’s
Of all the tourist attractions in Rome, the Trevi Fountain is perhaps the most touristy. Almost every shop in every street leading to the fountain in some way or other is part of the tourist industry. People take you picture and want money for it, people try to sell you bracelets, sunglasses, roses when you’re a couple and umbrellas when it rains. Often these days, there are so many people that you are not even allowed to stand still anymore.
It is common practice to throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain before leaving Rome. This has to be done over the left shoulder, with one’s back to the monument. According to legend this will assure a future return to the Eternal City. In the past one was supposed to take a sip of water from the fountain in order to achieve this, not the most healthy of superstitions.
Nowadays tourists sometimes think it would be nice to act like Anita Ekberg and jump into the fountain. Fines are steep, so you might want to think twice before doing this. Recently, the authorities have gone a step further and you are not even allowed to sit on the ledge around the fountain anymore.
The Fontana dell’Aqua Paola is one of the most impressive fountains in Rome. It was built on top of the Janiculum Hill in the Trastevere district. For people who have seen the Italian movie La Grande Bellezza, the fountain is seen at the start of the film, when the Asian tourist has a heart attack. In June 2019 a restoration, paid for by the luxury fashion brand Fendi, will start.
Aqua Paola Fountain Rome
The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola was commissioned by Pope Paul V Borghese and stems from the beginning of the 17th century. The Romans call it the Fontanone, which would mean something to the lines of the “Giant Fountain”.
The fountain was designed by Giovanni Fontana and Flaminio Ponzo, although the huge shell is an afterthought and was added by Carlo Fontana in 1690.
The stones that were used in its construction were taken from the Foro di Nerva. The fountain is completely made of white marble and granite and has three arches and two alcoves. At present there is one big basin, which has replaced the five smaller ones that were there when the fountain was created.
The red granite Ionic pillars connecting the gate around the fountain were taken from the first version of Saint Peter’s Basilica.
The gate was necessary in order to prevent soldiers from letting their horses drink from the fountain.
The square in front of the fountain was also constructed in 1690, by order of Pope Alexander VIII.
The Fontana Paola is the end station of the 57km long Aqua Paola aqueduct (also known as the Aquedotto Traiano), which had its beginning in the city of Bracciano (north of Rome), and was built by the Emperor Traianus in the year 109 in order to bring water to the Trastevere en Borgo quarters. The design of the aqueduct was based on the Moses Fountain which was done by Giovanni Fontana‘s brother Domenico.
The first time the fountain was used the water squirted out with such strength that a marble balustrade broke and fell on the street below, a reason for Pasquino, one of Rome’s talking statues, to write a sarcastic poem about the event.
Ippolito Buzio sculpted the dragon and the eagle (symbols of the Borghese family) and the two angels on top of the fountain in 1610. The Latin inscription is a boast by Pope Paul saying that it was he who brought the water via the Acqua Alsietana aqueduct from Bracciano to Rome. (In reality this happened via the Acqua Traiana, which shows that Popes can make mistakes.)
Unfortunately the water turned out not to be very drinkable and this led to the Roman saying, “to be worth as much as the Acqua Paola”.
In the 2nd half of the 17th century the area behind the fountain was made into a botanical garden, thought in the year 1820 Pope Pius VII had them moved to the grounds of the Palazzo Corsini. From the nymphaeum of these botanical gardens one can enjoy a gorgeous view over the city.
In the belly of the fountain there is a sort of storehouse of the city of Rome, where spare parts of other fountains and monuments are kept. This is not accessible to the public, and apparently not catalogued very well, so nobody seems to know what piece of marble belongs to what fountain.
The Fontana delle Api is a small, but rather elegant fountain. It was constructed in the year 1644, in honor of Pope Urban VIII Barberini.
The large bees that give the fountain its name are there because the bee was the symbol of the Barberini family.
The name of Urban VIII himself is written on the sea-shell that is the main feature of the Fountain of the Bees. The inscription on the shell states that the fountain’s water is meant for use of the public (and their animals).
The present spot is not where the Fountain of the Bees started its existence. Originally it stood on the corner of Piazza Barberini and the Via Sistina, but was taken away in 1865, not to be rebuilt until 1915.
The Fontana delle Api stands at the beginning of the Via Veneto. The nearest metro stop is Barberini (line A). The nearest bus stop is Barberini (lines 61, 62, 85, 492, 590, N1, N5, N12).
The fountain was commissioned in 1575 by Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni, designed by Giacomo della Porta and sculpted by Leonardo Sormani. The water for the fountain comes from the old Acqua Vergine Aqueduct.
There is a marble shell on a balustrade in the middle of the tub. The shell is decorated with four sculpture groups of masks and dolphins. These were originally created for the southern fountain in the Piazza Navona.
The present version of the fountain was commissioned by Pope Clemens II Albani and designed by Filippo Barigioni. The artist used Bernini‘s Fountain of the Four Rivers as an inspiration for his design. He got rid of the balustrade and created a marble cliff with a dolphin on every corner.
The obelisk of Ramses II was not added until much later, in 1711, when Pope Clemente XI Albani ordered Filippo Barignoni to reconstruct the fountain, by adding a rock instead of the basin and decorating the base with four dolphins by the hand of the sculptor Luigi Amici.
Like the obelisk on Bernini’s Elephant, this Macuteo Obelisk also originally stood on the Iseo Campense. This was a temple for the Egyptian Gods Isis and Serapis, built by Domitian. Until the 14th century this temple was located in front of the San Macuto Church. Domitian himself had transported this obelisk, which was made during the reign of Ramses II, from Egypt to Rome. Two more obelisks that used to decorate the Iseo Campense were the Dogali Obelisk and the obelisk in the Boboli Gardens in Florence.
The coats-of-arms adorning the north and south sides of the fountain are those of the Albani family and of the Pope. The bronze star on top of the obelisk is another symbol of the Albani family.
Towards the end of the 20th century the original masks were replaced by copies. The originals, one of which stems from the 17th and the other ones from the 15th century, are on display in the Museo di Roma.
The total height of the obelisk is 14,52 meters.
Address and public transport
The fountain of the Pantheon is located in the Piazza della Rotonda. The nearest bus stop is Argentina (30, 40, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 130F, 190F, 492, 628, 916, 916F, N5, N6, N7, N15, N20, SHOP1).
Seen from the Piazza del Popolo, the Via del Babuino is the left one of the three streets that together form Rome‘s famous shopping “Tridente“. The street gets its name from the statue of the “baboon” near the Church of Sant’Atanasio dei Greci. Most of the artist’s studios that used to line the street have been replaced by expensive antique stores.
Via del Babuino Rome
The hill to the left of the Via del Babuino when entering from the Piazza del Popolo is the famous Pincio Hill.
The Via del Babuino started out as two different streets, called Via dell’Orto di Napoli and Via del Cavalletto. In 1925, when Pope Clemens VII ordered the construction of the new street it came to be called Via Clementina. After its completion in 1943 the then Pope Paul III, changed the name to Via Paolina Trifaria.
Most buildings in the street date from the 17th till the 19th century, however.
Before the area at the bottom of the Pincio became popular most Romans used to live near the banks of the Tiber. Problems with malaria, lack of drinking water and overpopulation caused the wealthier part of the population to start looking elsewhere.
The area at the foot of the Pincio was only scarcely populated and would have been ideal, but for the lack of drinking water. This problem was solved when the decision was taken to restore the Acqua Vergine, the least damaged of all of the city’s aqueducts. Even now a branch of this aqueduct still runs underneath the Via del Babuino and provides the Piazza del Popolo fountains with water.
A second way to get people to move to this area was to not tax shop space. This enabled foreign artists who came to Rome to set up their studios in the Via del Babuino and the Via Margutta. Famous examples are Rubens, Poussin and Van Wittel.
In the 18th century rents started creeping up and the Via del Babuino became less popular. The 19th century saw a revival however, and artists like the composers Wagner and Liszt resided in the street.
Nowadays the Via del Babuino is a street for the rich. There are hardly any artists’ studios left and the street is full of luxury antique stores.
Tourist attractions Via del Babuino
The Hôtel de Russie is so luxurious that they had to give it French name. It used to have the nickname “Hotel of Kings”. Its beautiful garden stretches up the Pincio Hill. After the end of World War II it was converted into office space, but since 2000 it performs its previous function again.
Rome’s Anglican All Saints Church occupies the Via del Babuino 153/b.
Slightly further down the road the Church of Sant’Atanasio dei Greci, which was designed by Giacomo della Porta can be seen.
To the left if this church you can see the former sudio of the Tadolini family of sculptors. The Fountain of the Baboon is placed against the facade of this building. In 1571 Pius V had a statue dedicated to Silenius, antique deity of wells and fountains, installed. This statue was so ugly that the inhabitants of the area came to refer to it as the “baboon” and the street ended up with its present name.
The Palazzo Nainer was built in the 19th century.
The Via del Babuino is now Rome‘s most expensive luxury street. Adding up the value of all of its buildings, its total worth, in 2016, came to 1½ billion Euros.
The Via del Babuino lies between the underground stops Flaminio and Spagna, both on line A. The nearest bus stop is Piazzale Flaminio (lines 89, 490, 495, 590, 628, C3, N1, N25).
The Fontana della Barcaccia (“Fountain of the Old Boat” or “Fountain of the Ugly Boat”) can be found at the bottom of the Spanish Steps in Rome, right in the middle of the Piazza di Spagna.
Fontana della Barcaccia Rome
It is a baroque water fountain in the shape of an old boat (hence the name “barcaccia“). The motif was chosen when an old boat was left behind when the water had receded after the Tiber had flooded (as often happened before the walls around this river were constructed).
The fountain was built by the two Bernini‘s, father Pietro and son Gian Lorenzo. The work, which had been commissioned by Pope Urban VIII, was completed in 1627.
After a restoration that took more or less one entire year, as of September 22, 2014, the Fontana della Barcaccia can again be admired in all its splendor. Only a couple of months later a bunch of Feyenoord football hooligans damaged the fountain and a new restoration was necessary.
The Fontana della Navicella (“Fountain of the Small Boat”) can be found on the Via della Navicella in front of the church of Santa Maria in Domnica in the rione Celio in Rome. It was built in 1519 and probably replaced an earlier damaged version.
Fontana della Navicella Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Via della Navicella. Opening hours and admission: The Fontana della Navicella can be seen from outside.
The Fontana della Navicella is thought to have been built in the years 1518-19, based on a project by Sansovino (who was also responsible for restoration of the church).
In 1514 Sansovino had also restored the Santa Maria in Domnica Church.
It is not the first fountain in this spot. Before the present version there used to be a marble boat representing a Roman galley, probably a votive offering to the goddess Isis.
Isis was the protectress of sailors. Probably the ship was found near the Colosseum. According to one theory it was connected to Egyptian sailors passing through Rome and sleeping in the nearby Castro Peregrinorum, a barracks for soldiers not stationed in Rome. Another possibility is that it was placed here by the sailors who took care of the velarium, the great veils protecting the Colosseum from the sun.
From the central part of the boat’s bridge, a jet of water emerges and lands in the basin below. The coat of arms on the foundation is that of Pope Leo X Medici.
The ship is raised on a marble stone and inserted in a quadrangular flowerbed. It is protected by small columns connected by wrought iron chains.
The Fontana del Prigione (Fountain of the Jail) is a well-traveled fountain that nowadays is located in the Trastevere district in Rome.
Fontana del Prigione Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Via Goffredo Mameli – Rome. Opening horus and admission: The fountain can be seen from outside.
History and description
It was originally placed in the Giardino di Villa Montalto Peretti all’Esquilino, at the time the biggest private property with the city walls. When, at the end of the 19th century, the Esquilino district was completely restructured in order to create space for the new central railway station Roma Termini the villa was destroyed and the fountain was dismantled in order to be rebuilt later in the Via Genova.
Then, in 1938, the Palazzo del Viminale had to be built and the Fontana del Prigione was moved again, this time to its permanent spot in the Via Goffredo Mameli on the slope of the Janiculum hill in the quarter of Trastevere. The spot was chosen in order to create a harmonious background view for the Via Manara.
Parts of the fountain, as it can be admired now, belonged to the original version and other parts are copies.
Domenico Fontana, who was also the architect of the Villa Montalto itself, was the creator of the Fontana del Prigione. It is characterized by an alcove with an amply guirlanded alcove in the middle. The water comes out of a lion’s head (both the lion and the guirlande are symbols on the coat-of-arms of Pope Sixtus V, the villa’s owner) into a basin decorated with 6 pillars. The statue of the prisoner, which gave the fountain its name, has unfortunately gone lost, just like those of Apollo and Venus on its sides and the head of the God Aesculapius that used to crown the fountain.
In 2006 the Fontana del Prigione was completely restored.