Revised June 23, 2004
NOTE: Most of the information on the fountains came from a small book titled "Rome - The Culture of Water". This book was given to Hynda and I when we were in Italy in February by Alex Lentini who used to work in Hynda's lab and is a resident of Rome. The evil stuff I have written about the Popes comes out of my head.
Just like most major cities throughout history water has played a significant role in Rome's history and development. Here the importance of water has been taken to the extreme as there are fountains all over Rome. I am not sure how many but you cannot walk more than a couple of blocks before you run into a fountain that is always running. Coming from an area where water is considered somewhat precious since we go through periodic cycles of draught it is rather disconcerting to see the fountains continuously flowing. The guide books do indicate that some of the major fountains are recycled but not all. Some of these fountains are small - some are quite large.
In ancient Rome there were 11 aqueducts that supplied water to the city. The Roman emperors built these enormous baths since they had so much water. The largest of these could handle 3000 people at a time and were free to the public. This, and free admission to the Coliseum to see Christians, animals and Jews being killed, was their way of keeping the lowly citizens happy. When the VisiGoths (let's face it they were really Germans getting an early start on sacking and pillorying cities and people) attacked Rome in the 6th Century ending the Roman Empire, they did so by first cutting off the water supply to Rome knowing how important this was to the Romans. The population in Rome at the height of the Roman Empire in the third century was 2 million. After the Goths got finished with Rome in the 6th century the population of Rome was 500!!!!
The following fountains are all within a short walk from our apartment. They take in some but not all of the most dramatic, incredible fountains in the city. On later trips I will venture further and have pictures of some other fountains.
The 'Every-Street-Has-One' Fountain
I am not sure of the number of these fountains but it has to be in the hundreds. The water is drinkable and incredibly cold and refreshing. They continuously run - 24 hours a day. They all have a little hole on the top of the curvy down part (that is a scientific term). When you want to drink from the fountain, you put your finger in the hole at the end and the water squirts out the hole in the bend of the curvy down part. You have to be careful because it can squirt pretty far depending upon the location of the fountain relative to the acquifier that feeds it.
Fountain in Plaza della Republica
This fountain is one of the newest (1901) and is quite spectacular, especially at night when it is lit up. The actual name for it is Fountain delle Naiadi but I never hear any one refer to it by that name. It has four nude nymphs and when it was unveiled there was quite a stir.. in fact .. it was covered for awhile.
As requested by our friend Peter Hui - NUDITY!!!! These are closeup pictures of the above fountain.
Le Quattro Fountane (The Four Fountains)
There is one corner which is very prominent because it is at the highest point of one of the hills of Rome and when you stand there you can see three of the famous Egyptian obelisks. This was done on purpose so that the pilgrims coming to Rome could find their way from church to church. These fountains were erected on the buildings on the four corner of this intersection in the late 16th Century and commissioned by Pope Sixtus V. Pope Sixtus V (1585-90) was one of the Popes who was responsible for a lot of the redevelopment of Rome. He was also the Pope who saw fit to declare Simon of Trent a saint and a martyr. Simon of Trent was a six year old boy who a century before had been killed by the Jews of Trent to use his blood for the making of Passover matzah. (Guess where the anti-semites of the world get a lot of their material from.)
There are actually two fountains in this plaza - both done by Bernini. Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) was an artist during the Baroque period and his influence on Rome can be seen all over the city. He was a favorite of Pope Urban VIII Barberini whose huge house is up the street from this plaza.
The fountain below is the Tritone Fountain done in 1642. A triton is a merman and they are in many fountains. This guy/fish is blowing water out of a shell.
This next fountain, at the other side of the piazza, is his Fountain of the Bees. The Barberini family symbol was the bee?? In Rome the people now refer to it as the Fontana de Ken Marrone. This fountain was to be used by people and animals.
This is another Bernini fountain that I found hidden in the courtyard of a building. It was originally part of a facade of a Palace.
This is probably the most famous fountain in Rome thanks to Anita Ekberg and her role in La Dolce Vita. It is busy all day and all night. The fountain is realtively new (1732-1762) and is built on the side of a building that is three stores tall. Originally some of the the fountains were the result of a small monumental fountain that was built at the end of an aqueducts run into the city. The Virgo Aqueduct, found in the first century ended here. Then some Pope decided to build some huge monumental fountain. The Trevi Fountain was commissioned by Pope Clement XII. This is not a very good picture. It is hard to take a good 'global' picture of this fountain. I will take another one on my next visit and see if I can do a better job.
The Piazza Navona has three fountains. Originally all these fourtains were just simple basins for watering people and animals. Over time various Popes commissioned artists to develop more monumental structures. The one in the center is the Four Rivers fountain and is the most famous. It is lit at night and is quite spectacular. That is the one that has Brenan in front of it and can be seen under the Brenan Visits Rome selection.
The fountain at the North end of the Piazza is called the Fountain of Neptune.
The fountain at the south end is the Fountain of the Moor. This fountain was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII. He is famous for instituting forced sermons for the Jews of the ghettos. It wasn't bad enough that they were locked up at night, had to wear identifying clothing when they ventured out of the ghetto, could not own property, could only sell used clothing as their only business business (not even new clothing) and could not own property - they also had to attend sermons in church where they were told how evil the Jewish religion is.
This is the fountain in front of the Pantheon. It has an obelisk also and it was hard deciding if it should go in the obelisk section or the fountain section.
The Turtle Fountain
This fountain is called the turtle fountain. There are four boys pushing/pulling turtles into the fountain. They are sitting on dolphins. This fountain is located right at one of the gated entrances to the old Jewish ghetto.
This is the fountain that is under the obelisk at the Piazza Popolo.