Sunday, 28 August 2011

Piazza Navona Fountains in Rome

If you are sightseeing in Rome you don't want to miss the Piazza Navona Fountains. The Piazza Navona has one of the finest examples of Bernini's fountains, built in 1651: the Fontana dei Fiumi (which means Fountain of the Four Rivers). Arrayed around the central rocky mass supporting the almost-obligatory obelisk are four large sculptures executed by his students. One of them, the Ganges, was sculpted by Claude Poussin who would later become a master under his own name.

This Piazza Navona fountain is a tour de force with a sea monster, a lion, palm tree, cacti and many other pieces woven together around the central column.

The cost of this Piazza Navona fountain was so massive  that taxes were levied on bread. This prompted outcries from Roman citizens both rich and poor. However, this controversy is now a part of history, so tourists can simply relax and have a cappaccino while watching the world go by.

Another one of the great Piazza Navona Fountains is the Fountain of the Moor. This is at the opposite end of the piazza and features a Triton (one of the many gods of the sea) riding a dolphin. From this particular view point, there is a lot of opportunities for people watching, while enjoying the warm Rome sunshine.

There are dozens of merchant stalls in Piazza Navona, interspersed among the many cafes and restaurants. You could stop near one and have your portrait sketched by one of the numerous artists dotting the piazza.

There is nightlife until early in the morning, with mimes, beggars, artists and a hundreds of natives and tourists threading through the oval plaza. The piazza was constructed around one of the ancient circuses - a circular area where streets converge, not a show with animals.

Be sure to stop in at the Tre Scalini and indulge yourself in a Tartufo. Or visit the oldest extant bar in Rome nearby, the Caffe della Pace. Here you can enjoy a Campari and take in the ambiance. Confess your sins at the Church of Sant'Agnese, set not far from three of Bernini's famous fountains.

The Fontana dei Calderai (Fountain of the Coppersmiths), later renamed the Fountain of Neptune is also here. Festooned with sea figures, Neptune slaying an octopus, sea horses, dolphins and Nerieds (sea nymphs) it carries Rome's fountain-sea creature theme to the ultimate peak. The fountain is made of the same Portasanta rose marble used for St. Peter's doorjambs.

Or, you can take a short walk to the Piazza Sant'Eustachio, between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona and listen to some classical music. Or catch the bus to the Pantheon.

Don't miss an opportunity to visit these amazing Piazza Navona Fountains in Rome.

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