Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli (1791-1863) was known as the greatest singer to sing in the Roman dialect. He was so famous that the square across the Ponte Garibaldi, the main bridge into Trastevere, was named after him: Piazza G.G. Belli.
The monument embellishing the square is also dedicated to Belli. It was made by request of the Roman people and the sculptor was a Sicilian called Michele Tripisciano, who refused to take money for the project, which was finished in 1913.
Belli is depicted with an iron club, attached to the statue with cement and painted black to make it resemble ebony. The reason for this is that the original wooden club was stolen several times by souvenir hunters.
Belli also has his thumb and index finger make a circle, a rather vulgar gesture in Rome, but it is not known why this was done.