Friday, 26 September 2014

Fountains for All

' Here lies one whose name is writ in water' is the epitaph of John Keats, the English Romantic poet who died in Rome of tuberculosis on 23rd February 1821 at just 25 years old. He had been advised to travel to warmer climes by his doctor and he lived in what is now the Keats - Shelley Museum at the foot of the Spanish Steps. The sound of splashing water from the Fontana della Barcaccia is said to have reminded Keats of the play ' Loves Lies a Bleeding', lines from which became his epitaph.

This very same fountain was unveiled this week after a period of restoration which will please the countless numbers of tourists that love to congregate around the 'leaky boat' after dark.

This is just one of many, many fountains in the city. Of the lesser known, the fountains designed by Pietro Lombardi are some of the most charming. Commissioned by the city in the 1920's, Lombardi designed nine fountains which are all based on features of the districts that they represent.

In Monti, whose name means mountains, the Fontana dei Monti represents the  hills , Esquiline, Quirinale, Viminale that originally made up the district.

 Fontana del Timone (helm) is situated on the banks of the Tiber, once the site of the ancient river port of Rome, Ripa Grande.

The Fontana della Botte (barrels) is found in Trastevere and reflects the number of wine shops and taverns that are in the area.

The Fontana delle Anfore (amphora) can be found in Testaccio. The reference this time is to the man made mountain of discarded amphora that was created in ancient times.

The Fontana delle Palle di Cannone (cannon balls) is located near the military fortress of Castel Sant'Angelo.

Fontanella della Pigna (pine cone) is named after the area around Piazza San Marco, the Pigna quarter.

The Fontana dei Libri (books) can be found near the Sapienza University which is in the Sant'Eustachio district hence the inclusion of the deer head in the design.

The Fontanella delle Tiare couldn't be anywhere else but in the Borgo near the Vatican. The design is made up of Papal tiaras & keys.

I have left my favourite Pietro Lombardi fountain until last - the Fontana degli Artisti on Via Margutta. The artists materials- brushes, easel, palette - depicted , reflect the artists that are associated with this street. I like to think that the theatrical masks that are also part of the design would have been appreciated by the famous Italian film director, Fellini ,who lived at number 110 Via Margutta.

As well as providing a visual link to their surroundings these fountains supply crystal clear drinking water to visitors & tourists alike. They truly are fountains for all.

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