Crowds at the Colosseum, a huge queue to St. Peter’s Basilica, thousands of tourists on the Palatine Hill… Tired of being constantly pushed by other people all day long, we asked ourselves: how to feel the real atmosphere of this city? Is it even possible in a place which seems to be one big tourist attraction? Visiting Rome doesn’t have to look like this. If you would like to feel the real Italian atmosphere rather than “giving high fives” to monuments, we have something for you. A walk between the Roman fountains will help you discover many gems and surprising views of the Italian capital. It will be a moment of rest after crowds of visitors in the most famous sights.
As you will see in our pictures, it was freaking cold… One of the Italians told us that it was the coldest day in Rome in 40 years of his life! Well, on the other hand, only a few people had a chance to take photos of icicles hanging from the Roman fountains 😉 Let’s hit the road!
FONTANA DELLE NAIADI
We started our walk at the Piazza Della Repubblica. Here you will find the fountain, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in Rome – Fontana Delle Naiadi. Its delicate and light form is an excellent counterbalance to the surrounding monumental, gray buildings from XIX century. Next to the square, there is also the Basilica of Santa Maria Degli Angeli e Dei Martiri, one of the Michelangelo’s masterpieces.
SAN CARLO QUATTRO FONTANE
Walking in the north direction, we came across a marvelous square with the church of San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane also called San Carlino… As the name may suggest, there are four fountains! Stay cautious, as inconspicuous bas-reliefs are located on the corners of the houses, and they are easy to miss. Together with the church located at one of the corners, they are considered as masterpieces of Baroque in Rome. This walk is not only about admiring fountains but also through history of the Eternal City 🙂
FONTANA DEL TRITONE
Just two blocks away, in Piazza Barberini, you’ll find another small work of art – Fontana del Tritone. There is a fairly creepy story about the square itself… Until the XVIII century, unidentified corpses were left here in order to be recognized by the citizens of Rome! Today, the square is a perfect place to start a tour around the shops and pubs located in small streets next to the Via Sistina.
Going through Via Sistina street, you’ll reach the top of Trinita Dei Monti a.k.a famous Spanish Steps. Excellent option for people who do not want to go up 135 steps to make it to the summit… From the top of the stairs, you have a perfect view over the famous Via Condotti, full of exclusive boutiques. It’s not a surprise, plenty of fashion shows are organized on the Spanish Steps. At the very bottom, you’ll notice Barcaccia fountain (Fountain of the Ugly Boat), commemorating floods, which destroyed Rome in XVI century. The overflowing Tiber threw here a small boat. When the water receded, this boat just stayed in the middle of the square. I remember that when I was here a dozen years ago, tourists washed their feet in a fountain…! Fortunately, nowadays a few carabinieri hold tourists’ fantasies at bay.
FONTANA DELL’ OBELISCO & FONTANA DEL NETTUNO
The most beautiful view of Rome? You can admire it not from the Spanish Steps, but the Pincio hill, located near Piazza del Popolo. The Square is huge, combining many historical styles and eras. In one place you will find the church of Santa Maria del Popolo from the XI century or the Egyptian obelisk from the X century BC surrounded by a fountain from XIX century, and you enter the square through the XVII-century Porta del Popolo… A real mish-mash showing the spirit of the Eternal City! In addition to the fountain at the obelisk, there is one more – Fountain of Neptune on the wall of the Pincio observation deck.
FONTANA DI TREVI
Finally, when we got frozen to the bone, we decided to go to the world-famous Italian fountain – Fontana di Trevi. To get there, we had to go through extremely crowded Via del Corso, which is a popular place for shopping. As di Trevi is the icon of Rome, there is a lot of tourists, what may kill the magic a bit… Everyone throws a coin into the fountain (one, two or three, depending on what you expect from life – another visit to Rome, romance or marriage). If you want to admire its beauty alone, best stay at home and watch Fellini’s La Dolce Vita – in the most famous scene actors goes… into the fountain. Even after 50 years, the scene still leaves a remarkable impression.
FONTANA DEI QUATTRO FIUMI
Along the way, we passed by other attractions – the Temple of Hadrian and the Pantheon. We had only a 15-minute walk to the famous Roman square – Piazza Navona. In fact, there are three fountains: Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moror, and Fontana del Nettuno, while the first one remains the most famous – the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Each of the sculptures embodies another river: the Nile, Ganges, Danube and the South-American La Plata. In the past, it used to be a huge marketplace, now moved to the Campo di Fiori. Still, there are numbers of events ongoing – we came across the Epiphany procession 🙂
FONTANA DI PONTE SISTO
If you don’t have enough walking… walk to the other side of the Tiber river. If you decide to use the Ponte Sisto bridge, another fountain masterpiece will be waiting for you by Piazza Trilussa square. Built in the XVII century, fountain was aimed at solving problems with low water pressure on this side of the Tiber. Currently, it’s struggling with the same problem – there is no more water pouring from the edges of the upper canopy, you will see only two weak streams gushing from dragon heads.
FONTANA DELL’ ACQUA PAOLA
Just a few more steps… A majestic wall of Il Fontanone appeared in front of us. This fountain was the inspiration for the most famous one – di Trevi. However, this fountain wouldn’t be built if not the… wine. The XVI-century citizens of Trastevere had big problems with access to the drinking water. It was collected either from brackish sources or from contaminated Tiber. To solve this problem, Pope Paul V started raising funds by implementing a tax on wine. It raised some local concerns… but eventually, the fountain was built, with a fresh water from a nearby Lake Bracciano. It’s the last fountain from our list, but I would advise you to continue walking. Come a little bit more up to the statue of Garibaldi and admire the panorama of Rome, seen from a new perspective.
Do you like sightseeing cities in a less touristy way? Or maybe you would like to see Rome while tasting it?
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