Rome’s most beautiful fountains: all their secrets revealed

Rome has many wonderful fountains. You can admire them on the most fascinating squares of the Eternal City. But did you know that they hide some…secrets?

The Fontana della Barcaccia, at the foot of the Spanish Steps, was realized by Gian Lorenzo Bernini who was inspired by the legend of a boat left right at the center of the square, after a devastating flood of the Tiber in the end of the 17th century.

Fontana barcaccia 2

Fontana della Barcaccia (Spanish Steps)

The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of four rivers), which is located in the awesome piazza Navona and it was realized as well by Bernini, takes its name from the major rivers of the four continents known at the time. The Nile representing Africa and the Danube symbolizing Europe, the Ganges indicating Asia and the Rio de La Plata for the Americas. Legend says Bernini is also represented in one of the figures of the fountain, protecting himself with his arm from the church in front of it,  which he feared would collapse. The architect of the church in front was Borromini and the two artists had a conflictual relationship dued to a strong rivalry.


Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Piazza Navona) Photo credit: emilyjanefoster1-Instagram

The Fontana delle Naiadi (Fountain of Naiads) is situated at the center of Piazza della Repubblica. It was inaugurated at the beginning of 20th century and is the work of sculptor Mario Rutelli, who was in charge to replace the existing one. It represents the Nymph of the Lakes,the Nymph of the Rivers, the Nymph of the Underground waters and the Nymph of the Oceans.

The particularly sensual and lascivious position of the statues, and the sheen of their wet bodies, turned out to be an immoral image for the conservative wing that was still alive in the city. So it was covered by a wooden fence to block the view of the monument. The controversy grew, in the name of decency and respectability, and was maintained for a while, but the City decided to embrace the progressive thesis and removed the fence.

In 1912, finally, the fountain took on its final appearance which still maintains, with a naked male figure grasping a dolphin in the center.

Fontana delle Naiadi (Piazza della Repubblica) Photo credit: marsancho88-Instagram

Fontana delle Naiadi (Piazza della Repubblica) Photo credit: marsancho88-Instagram

La Fontana dell’Acqua Paola (also called Er Fontanone) is located on the Gianicolo hill.

It appears in a famous song by Italian singer Antonello Venditti

Quanto sei bella Roma quann’è sera, quanno la luna se specchia dentro ar Fontanone (How beautiful you are oh Rome in the evenings, when the moon reflects itself inside the Fontanone)

and in a lot of Italian and international movies, like “La grande bellezza” (The Great Beauty)  and “Spectre”.

Er Fontanone (Gianicolo) Photo credit: sonofliberty90-Instagram

Er Fontanone (Gianicolo) Photo credit: sonofliberty90-Instagram

Regarding the most impressive of Rome’s fountain, Fontana di Trevi (the Trevi Fountain), we all know that if you throw a coin into it, you’ll be back  to the Eternal City.

Fontana di Trevi

Fontana di Trevi

Of course it’s not a secret, but a hope (and a heartfelt wish).


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