Tag Archives: Rome

Life is a Fountain

Fountains seem decadent these days. They use precious water and electricity (or some other magical gravity-based process before electricity was harnessed that I barely understand), and they’re not practical. What are they for anyway? To cool the air? To sit by? To put your feet in? To look at? Originally a water source, and then monuments to popes and kings, they’re definitely one of my favorite forms of art and they were everywhere in Rome (and other Italian cities I visited in October).

Here are two of my favorites: the Trevi Fountain and the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini.

The Trevi Fountain is a major attraction in Rome and has a long history with tourists. Custom says that if you throw a coin in this fountain, you are sure to return to Rome someday. I made sure to toss in 2 Euro just for extra insurance. Also, a friend said they periodically pull the coins from the fountain and use them to feed Rome’s hungry.

I particularly loved the way this fountain looked at night, although it was more full of tourists than I would have liked. Hard to find a place to stand to get a good photo without someone walking into the shot.

The current version of this fountain was apparently built in 1629, although the aqueduct that feeds it dated back to 19 B.C.!

The Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, below) is in the urban square Piazza Navona and was designed by Bernini in 1651, who won a competition to build it there. The architectural beauty in the background is the Palazzo Pamphili, and although not shown in the photo, to the left is the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, so ornate and beautiful that I could not keep from crying as I walked through it. Like many churches we visited, no photos were allowed.

Four rivers, one each from the continents known at the time (the Nile, Danube, Ganges, and Plata) are symbolically represented by four river gods.

Although I loved the setting sun on the Palazzo, I preferred the look of the fountain at night, with the water illuminated.

The fountain is topped by an Egyptian obelisk built for Roman Serapeum in AD 81, shown below blocking the moonlight.

It’s interesting that the perception of god-like male beauty has not changed in more than 400 years.

Bernini had never seen an armadillo, but he met someone who supposedly had, and this is his interpretation of that description.

While searching for a park, we stumbled across this beauty below in Rome,  the Fontana dell’ Acqua Paola, dedicated to Pope Paulus Quintus. Rome, in particular, was a city where getting lost was never a dilemma because you were sure to accidentally discover another unforgettable treasure.

Next time I’ll share my photos of the Roman Forum, the equivalent of downtown ancient Rome.

Roma! (Not Just a Tomato)

Rome was such a historic city. Every corner held a giant monument or ancient building. We stayed in the neighborhood known as the Jewish Ghetto, named as such because the Romans forced the Jews of the city to live only in this area of the city for centuries. The area has kosher bakeries, butcher shops, and restaurants, as well as a museum of Jewish relics and history and well-known synagogue and school. We noticed a police presence in the area, still present because the area is still a potential terror target due to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The most impressive part of the neighborhood was this ancient ruin. The original structure pre-dates the Colosseum, from around 27 B.C. and was built by soon-to-be Emperor of Rome Augustus for his sister Ottavia (Octavia). I was fascinated by the modifications that have been made over the centuries, as you can see in this photo.  

Walking among the ruins was a treat, in the same foot steps as those that lived thousands of years ago.

This arch, called a portico, was built for Ottavia and in later centuries housed the largest fish market in Rome.

Many rounds of work have been done to maintain, modify, and/or continue to use these ancient structures over more than 2000 years.

I took this picture of an ancient Roman fragment because I realized that if you go to any Home Depot, you’ll see these same ancient styles replicated in wood moldings, wall paper, crown molding, and other decor used in modern homes today.  

Tomorrow I’ll share some photos of my two favorite fountains in Rome (there are so many to love).