Talking Statues Rome

The Talking Statues of Rome are otherwise known as the Congregation of Wits and from the 16th century onwards formed a way for Romans to anonymously criticize and make fun of the popes and politicians of the period.

Talking Statues Rome

Abbot Luigi (talking statues Rome)
Abbot Luigi

The first one of the talking statues was Pasquino, a statue that was found by chance during excavations near the present Piazza Navona. It was placed on a small square and soon small snide poems and epigrams satirizing the rulers of the city started appearing on it.

There are various theories as to the origin of the custom, but the most commonly accepted one is that the original Pasquino was a tailor working at the Vatican and that the statue was named after him when he died.

Other people took over after his death and, when guards were posted to prevent people from venting their criticisms, other statues (Madama Lucrezia, Abbot Luigi, Il Babuino, Il Facchino and Marforio) came to be used for the same reason.

For a while Pasquino and Marforio even ran a dialogue amongst themselves, Pasquino posting some witticism one day and Marforio answering the day after.

The English word pasquinade (“a satire or lampoon, especially one that ridicules a specific person, traditionally written and posted in a public place”) was coined thanks to the talking statues of Rome.

Acqua Paola Fountain Rome

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 in the film’s opening scenes, when the Asian tourist has a heart attack.

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Fountain of the Bees Rome

Apart from the more famous Fontana del Tritone there is another fountain near Piazza Barberini. The Fountain of the Bees can be found at the beginning of the Via Vittorio Veneto and like its more famous cousin was created by Bernini.

Fountain of the Bees Rome

Fountain of the Bees
Fountain of the Bees

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.

Public transportation

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).

Fountain of the Bees – Via Veneto, Rome

Piazza Mastai Fountain Rome

The Piazza Mastai Fountain is located in the middle of the square with the same name in the Trastevere district in Rome.

Piazza Mastai Fountain Rome

Piazza Mastai Fountain Rome
Detail of the fountain

Both the fountain and the Manifattura, a building in the Piazza Mastai, were designed by the architect Antonio Sarti.

A second architect, Andrea Busiri Vici, was responsible for the fountain’s actual construction, which consists of an octagonal vessel on three steps.

The coat-of-arms of Pope Mattei is depicted on the monument and in its center there is another basin on a pedestal held high by 4 dolphins. On top of that vessel 4 lion’s heads spout water.

Piazza Mastai Fountain Rome Photo Gallery

Piazza Mastai – Rome

Fontana della Barcaccia Rome

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.

Piazza di Spagna – Rome

Fontana della Navicella Rome

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.

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Fontana del Prigione Rome

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.

Via Goffredo Mameli – Rome