I spent four days in Rome during my 70-day solo backpacking trip in Europe.
As always, I walked without a map, without a plan, and without a destination in mind (except for the Vatican).
In my endless of hours of wandering in this Italian capital, I noticed (among other things) how wonderful the fountains are in this city. Here are seven that you should really make sure to see when you’re in Rome.
1. Fontana di Trevi
The Trevi Fountain is perhaps the most beautiful in Rome, if not in the whole world. It is huge, and the details of the sculptures are amazing. Trevi means an intersection of three roads: the Via della Muratte, the Via Poli, and Via del Lavatore.
I arrived through Via Poli, and despite being tired from hours of walking around, the sight of the fountain was more than enough to make me feel grateful I was given the chance to travel cheaply in Europe!
There were maybe a hundred tourists or so when I arrived, but there are always a lot of people here, regardless of time and season. I asked another solo traveler to take my picture, and did what everyone must do in Fontana di Trevi: I threw a coin into the fountain to make sure that I can go back to Rome someday.
Built in 1732, the Fontana di Trevi has been immortalized in several popular movies, including La Dolce Vita and Roman Holiday. It’s sad though that recent news report the fountain to be crumbling for lack of maintenance. With over 3,000 euros in coins thrown into the fountain everyday, one would think some of it would go into maintaining this beautiful structure.
2. Fontana della Barcaccia (“Fountain of the Old Boat”)
This wonderfully-shaped fountain built by the famous Pietro Bernini and his son in 1627 lies at the base of the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna. The shape was said to be a reminder of the time when the river Tiber flooded and left a boat in the middle of the piazza when the water receded.
After you’ve taken your fill taking pictures of this Bernini masterpiece, go up the Spanish Steps (so called because of the Spanish embassy located nearby) until you reach the top where the church Trinità dei Monti is.
3. Fontana del Pantheon
Another fountain you must see when in Rome is the Fontana del Pantheon. Located right in front of the Roman Pantheon, it’s a very interesting structure composed of a Ramses obelisk and four dolphins. Entrance to the Pantheon is free, so make sure to go inside.
The Pantheon is said to be the best preserved building of ancient civilization. Its dome is perfectly hemispherical, and the vastness of the place does fill you with wonder. How did the people who built it in 125AD manage to do it?
4. Fontana delle Naiadi (Fountain of the Naiads)
The Fountain of the Naiads was the first fountain of Rome that I saw. Located in Piazza della Repubblica which is quite near the termini (train station), it features four naiads (nymphs) in various act: one is holding a swan, while others are on top of a monster, on a horse, and lying on a dragon. They are supposed to represent the nymphs of the lakes, rivers, oceans, and underground waters.
5. Fontana Nettuno della Piazza Bocca della Verita
This very unassuming Neptune fountain stands in the Piazza Bocca della Verita by the river Tiber, quite near the ancient temples of Portunus and Vesta. It’s also across the St. Mary’s Church in Cosmedin, made famous by the Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth).
It was very unfortunate that the church had already closed by the time I arrived there. I would have wanted to see the Mouth of Truth. After all, not all ancient drains get to become a legend!
6. Maderno Fountain in St. Peter’s Square
A visit to the Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica is really a must when you’re in Rome. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Catholic or not. You can even be an atheist and still marvel at the grandeur of the largest church in the world.
One of the first things you will notice in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City (aside from the Basilica) is the towering obelisk in the middle flanked by two huge fountains. The one on the right side was built first by architect Carlo Maderno in the early 1600s. After 50 years, the Pope then asked the famous Bernini to do a second fountain on the left side of the obelisk.
These massive colonnades greet all visitors entering St. Peter’s Square. While entrance to the Basilica itself is free, be prepared to stand in line for hours, especially during the summer season. If you’re in Italy for its winter sports though, you’ll find the line much shorter. Not too many would welcome standing around in the cold! To get to the Vatican Museum, you’d have to go to another entrance. The fee is 15 euros.
7. The street fountains of Rome
Okay, this fountain may not be as grand as the other six, but I like it just the same. It’s a street fountain, and when there’s flowing water, a lot of people (and animals) can be seen drinking from it. I did drink (out of curiosity) from one located at the base of Capitoline Hill, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find the water cool and fresh.
Called nasoni, each of the thousands installed in the city contain the mark “S.P.Q.R.” which means Senatus Populus Que Romanus or “the Senate and the People of Rome.”
There are so many more beautiful fountains in Rome. There are, in fact, hundreds, and a lot of them were built or designed by very well-known artists of their time. Hopefully, my wish at the Trevi Fountain will come true and I’ll find myself back in Rome again, to discover and re-discover all the charms that this ancient city has to offer.
Out of these seven fountains, which is your favorite? Do share with us why!