Friday, 17 January 2014

Animal Magic

Traditionally animals are blessed on the Festa di Sant'Antonio Abate (17th January)
Here are five of my favourite animals in Rome.

Piazza Mattei is a delightful area of Rome made all the more special by the fountain in the middle of this tiny square. The turtles, attributed to Bernini, are a later addition to this charming fountain.

One of my absolute favourite museums in Rome is Palazzo Massimo & it is here we find an exquisite depiction of a horse in mosaic.

This is no ordinary horse but a horse belonging to the charioteer. who is also pictured here. Both horse & owner would have achieved unimaginable fame as contestants in  chariot races of the third century AD.

Another tiny piazza also holds a surprise animal at the centre. Piazza della Minerva is the home of an obelisk mounted upon the back of a statue of an elephant designed by Bernini.

On to yet another piazza that holds a  positive menagerie of animals but I have chosen one in particular. Who would have thought that you could find an armadillo in Piazza Navona!

Actually this is Bernini's idea of what an armadillo would look like and it can be found in the Fountain of the Four Rivers where it represents the Americas. Other animal sculptures to be found in the fountain are a lion (Africa) and a snake (Asia).
Finally we come to what is possibly the most well known animal in Rome - the She Wolf, who played a major part in the story of the founding of the city. It is said that she suckled the twin boys Romulus & Remus. Romulus went on to establish a settlement on the Palatine Hill which became the city of Rome.

This beautiful Etruscan work of art dates from the 5th century BC and can be found in the Capitoline Museums. The twins were added in the 16th century.

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