to See - Piazza Navona
Although the Eternal City is full of museums, restaurants, and shops,
of Rome is an outdoor city. The city shines best when seen
from one its piazzas.
The word simply means "public square". Unlike some other
internationally renowned cities, however, the piazzas of Rome truly
are gathering places for people who love the beauty of outdoor
art in all its forms.
Navona holds one of the finest examples of Bernini's fountain
work: the Fontana
dei Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) built in 1651.
Arrayed around the central rocky mass supporting the almost-obligatory obelisk are four
large sculptures executed by his students. One of them, the Ganges, was
sculpted by Claude
Poussin who would later become a master in his own right.
The fountain is a tour de force with a sea monster, a lion, cacti, palm
tree and a dozen other pieces woven together around the central column.
The funding was so large for the piece that taxes were levied on bread,
prompting outcries from Roman citizens both poor and rich. But with the
controversy now a part of history, the visitor can simply relax and
have a cup of coffee while watching the busy city.
The Fountain of the Moor
is at the other end of the piazza and features a Triton - one of the
many gods of the sea - riding a dolphin. From this vantage point, there
is ample opportunity for people watching, enjoying the warm Roman
sunshine or planning the next stop around the Piazza Navona and its
environs. For there is much to be done beside simply admiring one of
Rome's many instances of outdoor waterworks.
Here, there are dozens of merchant stalls, interspersed among the many
cafes and restaurants. You could stop near one and perhaps become
immortalized yourself as you have your portrait sketched by one of the
numerous artists dotting the piazza.
There is nightlife until early in the morning, with mimes, beggars,
artists and a hundreds of natives and tourists threading through the
oval plaza. The piazza was constructed around one of the ancient
circuses - a circular area where streets converge, not a show with
Be sure to stop in at the Tre Scalini
and indulge yourself in a Tartufo.
Or visit the oldest extant bar in Rome nearby, the Caffe
della Pace. Here you can enjoy a Campari and
take in the ambiance. If you are feeling guilty for enjoying your visit
so much, you can confess your sins at the Church of Sant'Agnese,
found not far from three of Bernini's famous fountains.
dei Calderai (Fountain of the Coppersmiths), later renamed
the Fountain of Neptune is also here. Festooned with sea figures,
Neptune slaying an octopus, sea horses, dolphins and Nerieds (sea nymphs)
it carries Rome's fountain-sea creature theme to the ultimate peak. The
fountain is made of the same Portasanta
rose marble used for St.
Or, you can take a short walk to the Piazza
Sant'Eustachio, between the Pantheon and Piazza
Navona and listen to some classical music. Or catch the bus to the
Don't miss an opportunity to visit Piazza Navona, one of Rome's most
well-known public squares, even if it is round.
the Eternal City