Recommended tours in Rome







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Recommended tours in Rome                            (Back to Rome main information page)

Fancy a tour that is a little out of the ordinary? Forget palazzi, museums and hills, and think&fountains!! By visiting the famous fountains in the city, you will learn some history, become an art critic and appreciate the beauty of some of the loveliest piazzas in the "Citt?Eterna". Rome has a great number of fountains in various shapes and sizes, of varying beauty and of varying fame. This large number is due to the fact that fontane have always been considered to be the best possible embellishment to the city, adornments 'par excellence'. Some of the elegant fountains are simply for decoration, but thankfully, almost every piazza and many streets have nasoni or 'Roman noses'  these are small fountains made of cast iron, offering drinkable water.

Many of the most famous fountains in Rome are located in the centre of the city and were designed and built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, one of the greatest sculptors and architects of the seventeenth century, who was also a town planner and left signs of his brilliance throughout Rome. The first fountain by Bernini is the Barcaccia, which is located at the foot of the steps of Trinit?dei Monti in Piazza di Spagna. In the summer evenings, the steps are filled with Romans and tourists who relax and enjoy one another's company. Some of the city's most fashionable boutiques are located in the streets that surround the piazza. The fountain dates from 1627-29 and was commissioned by Pope Urbano VIII Barberini, and is decorated with Barberinian apes in his honour. The fountain's design is based on an enormous ship that is slowly sinking; it was created in memory of those who lost their lives when the Tevere flooded the entire area at the end of the sixteenth century. In reality, the fountain was the work of Pietro Bernini, father of the more famous Gian Lorenzo, whose son collaborated on this work.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was the exclusive designer of the Fontana del Tritone in Piazza Barberini between 1642 and 1643. This fountain represents a Triton in a shell surrounded by four dolphins. With this work, Bernini sought to symbolise the power of Pope Barberini. There is another fountain by the same artist, in the square, this is the Fontana delle Api, which was built at around the same time as Fontana del Tritone. It was dismantled in 1880 and reconstructed in 1917 at the crossroads of Via Veneto and Via di S. Basilio. Unfortunately, the current version is not much like the original and only part of the fountain can be said to be authentic. Bernini's most famous fountain is the Quattro Fiumi, which stands at the centre of Piazza Navona. It was built in marble and travertine stone between 1648 and 1651, and is said to be the most beautiful fountain in Rome, which accounts for its fame. The four statues decorating the Quattro Fiumi represent four rivers, symbols of the four parts of the world that were known at that time. The Danube is Europe, The Nile is Africa, the Ganges is Asia and Rio represents the Americas. At the south end of the square stands another fountain that was designed by Bernini, and built by Antonio Mari in 1653. Mari was extremely loyal to the creator's design of the Fontana del Moro, (the Moor's fountain). The fountain takes its name from the triton with African features who stands fighting a dolphin amidst the seas.

The Trevi Fountain (located in Piazza Trevi) is one of the most famous fountains in the world, not least because of the scene from Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita when the beautiful Anita Ekberg mesmorises the equally good-looking Marcello Mastroianni. It is said that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain that you will certainly return to Rome one day. The Trevi fountain was created by Bernini and Pietro da Cortona, but was not completed until a century later (c.1751) when Nicola Salvi was commissioned to finish the work. The fountain itself is a delicious confection of columns, horses, Tritons and Neptune. If you happen to be strolling through the streets of Rome during the summer (at around 2 or 3 am), you are likely to come across vagrants (barboni) retrieving coins from the fountain!

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