Thursday, June 18, 2009

Water Fountain Destination - Rome, Italy

Are you ready for some fountains?

Is your suitcase packed? Did you remember to pack in your portable battery-operated water fountain? You’ll likely need it for this trip. Is your home indoor water fountain turned off ?

OK, so let’s go!

Here we are in Rome, the Water Fountain Capital of the World.
There are literally hundreds of water fountains including the small “nasoni” (named for the ‘Roman Nose’ shape of the spouts) dispensing drinking water for public use and the elaborately decorative, large structures designed by famous sculpture artists.

Today we’ll focus on the water fountain creations of one sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. His stone pieces were created between 1629 and 1653, but his most famous fountain, Trevi, was actually not completed until 1751, about 70 years after his death, having been commissioned to an artist of that time, Nicola Salvi.

The earliest (1629) is the Baraccia (photo by Radomil) located at the bottom of the Trinit dei Monte steps in Piazza di Spagna. Although Gian Lorenzo has been credited for this fountain, it was actually designed by his father, Pietro, and Gian Lorenzo was a collaborator. Commissioned by Pope Urbano Barberini, it depicts a sinking ship in memory of the people who lost their lives during a late 16th century flood.

Next are the Fontana del Tritone (The Triton Fountain), 1643, and the Fontana delle Api (Bee Fountain), bees refer to the coat of arms of the Pope's family - The House of Bernini, are both located in Piazza Barberini and built around the same time. This Triton a powerful symbol of the Pope's power has remained intact over the centuries. Api has fared less well and was dismantled for over 35 years before a reconstruction in 1917. Some parts of the original structure remains, but historians disagree as to exactly what is or is not authentic in the current version. Note: On The Triton, look for the bees on the pedestal which demonstrates the relationship to the Pope.

Bernini’s most famous personal work, at left, is the Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers), 1651, located in the center of Piazza Navona.

Considered to be the most beautiful fountain in the city, it is built of marble and travertine stone and symbolizes four rivers from the four parts of the known world at that time. Europe is represented by the Danube; Africa by the Nile; Asia by the Ganges and the Americas by Rio. It is topped off by the Domitian obelisk which causes the structure to tower over the piazza. At the south end of the square is another Bernini designed fountain, but built by Antonio Mari in 1653, the Fontana del Moro (Moor’s Fountain),above right, depicting an African-featured triton battling a dolphin.

Last, but definitely not least, is Fontana Trevi (1751), located in Piazza Trevi. This is the fountain that garnered world-wide fame via two films, “La Dolce Vita” and “Three Coins in a Fountain” and consists of an extravagant array of columns, tritons, horses and Neptune. The legend of this fountain states that after throwing a coin over your shoulder into the waters, a return trip to Rome is guaranteed.

So, there we have a small sampling of Rome’s fountains for your enjoyment. When you look at indoor water fountains to place in your home you’ll often notice the influence of these sculptures on contemporary design. You’ve done a bit of walking today, so experience an expansive, multi-course meal in a local tratoria and then enjoy the benefits of your personal battery-powered water fountain in your room for a relaxing end to a wonderful day. And, never forget that your indoor water fountain at home is a multi-functioning cousin to those you've seen today, and is a work of art in its own right.

The next Fountain Destination - London, England

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