Fontana dell’Acqua Paola
Trastevere is a place full of architectural beauties to visit.
Among these, there are some that have also entered world culture, albeit sometimes indirectly.
One of these is the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola.
The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, also known as the Fontanone, or Fontana del Gianicolo, is a monumental fountain built in 1600 and located in the Trastevere district.
This beautiful fountain has become famous to the Italian public for the citations of it in film and music and to the world public for being mentioned by the German writer and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his essay Journey to Italy written during his second stay in Rome and for having recently appeared both in the Italian film “La Grande Bellezza” by Paolo Sorrentino (winner, among other awards, of an Oscar and a Golden Globe) and in the film Spectre of the 007 series – James Bond.
The history of this monument, as often happens for works of art and architecture, is very fascinating.
The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola
History tells us, in fact, that at the beginning of the seventeenth century some districts of Rome had difficulty in finding drinking water. Among these was, Trastevere.
Realizing this water problem, Pope Paul V decided to restore the ancient Trajan aqueduct (the tenth aqueduct of Rome, built around 109 AD) and then locate in its final part a fountain that was to rise in Porta San Pancrazio.
The project and construction was entrusted to the architects Giovanni Fontana and Flaminio Ponzio who were inspired by the Acqua Felice fountain.
The construction of the fountain lasted about 4 years and, to build it, marble from pre-existing buildings such as the Roman Forum and the Temple of Minerva were recovered.
Towards the end of 1600, the fountain was enlarged during which it was also equipped with a large square.
Over the years the fountain was restored several times.
The first restoration took place in the second half of the 1800s after the reconquest of the Roman Republic, but others followed in the following century. The last one took place in 2019.
Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, a truly magnificent fountain
Ok, this is the story of the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, but why should we waste time to see a fountain and not to see a museum or to spend a day at the Colosseum or in other areas of Rome?
If you have asked yourself this question, the answer is simple: because it is a truly magnificent fountain. It is not a common fountain from which water comes out to drink on hot days, but an artistic and architectural work that leaves you ecstatic.
The game of contrasts created with the polychrome marble of the structure and the red and gray granite of the columns amuses the sight and it is also fun to go in search and discover the number of times in which the papal coat of arms of Paul V is shown on it.
The Latin inscription on the top of the fountain is also interesting.
“PAVLVS QVINTVS PONTIFEX MAXIMVS
AQVAM IN AGRO BRACCIANENSI
SALVBERRIMIS E FONTIBVS COLLECTAM
VETERIBVS AQVAE ALSIETINAE DVCTIBVS RESTITVTIS
XXXV AB MILLIARIO DVXIT
ANNO DOMINI MDCXII PONTIFICATVS SVI SEPTIMO”
and commemorates, albeit with an error, the creation of the fountain. Which error? The restored aqueduct was not the Alsietine one but the Traiano one.
But the inscription left by another Pope, Alexander VIII, is also interesting
«ALEXANDER VIII OTTHOBONVS VENETVS P M
PAVLI V PROVIDENTISSIMI PONT BENEFICIVM TVTATVS
REPVRGATO SPECV NOVISQVE FONTIBVS INDVCTIS
RIVOS SVIS QVEMQVE LABRIS OLIM ANGVSTI CONTENTOS
VNICO EODEMQVE PER AMPLO LACV EXCITATO RECEPIT
AREAM ADVERSVS LABEM MONTIS SVBSTRVXIT
ET LAPIDEO MARGINE TERMINAVIT ORNAVITQVE
ANNO SALVTIS MDCLXXXX PONTIFICATVS SVI SECVNDO»
and commemorates the enlargements and modifications of the fountain made at the end of the 17th century.
Visit the Fontana Dell’Acqua Paola
Obviously, when it comes to visiting, it should be emphasized that the visit to the fountain can be done at any time without appointments or reservations.
There is, however, a garden behind the fountain whose visit is reserved exclusively for accompanied groups and upon reservation. The maximum number of group members is 25 people, except for variations.
Individuals, on the other hand, can visit, always by booking, also other areas affected by the monument but always by booking.
These visits, of course, are paid and do not include any guide which, instead, must be booked separately.
In conclusion, if you are planning your tour of Trastevere, you cannot fail to list this beautiful fountain too: it will be an opportunity both to take beautiful photos and to cool off thanks to the coolness that its waters will bring towards you.
One recommendation: avoid bathing in it. Besides not being a polite gesture, it’s not even allowed.