There are few cities more beautiful than Rome. When walking the streets of Rome (by far the best way to experience the city) virtually every corner seems to have a stunning Italian landmark.
One of my personal favourite elements of Rome is the many beautiful fountains bubbling away across the city. Fountains have been in Rome for over 2000 years, providing both drinking water and decoration. In 98 AD Rome had nine aqueducts which fed 39 fountains.
Following the fall of the Roman empire, fountains in Rome fell in and out of favour. There were periods of disrepair and neglect as well as periods where new fountains were constructed. In the 17th and 18th century a new golden age for Rome Fountains emerged with the construction of baroque masterpieces across the city.
Today, all of Rome’s fountains have been rebuilt and use a mix of gravity and mechanical pumps plus recycled water from across the aqueducts to create these beautiful tourist attractions.
20 Beautiful Fountains in Rome
Table of Contents
- 1 20 Beautiful Fountains in Rome
- 1.1 1. Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)
- 1.2 2. Fontana Della Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain)
- 1.3 3. Fontana Della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Leaky Boat)
- 1.4 4. Quattro Fontane (The Four Fountains)
- 1.5 5. Fontana Delle Anfore (Fountain of the Amphorae)
- 1.6 6. Fontana Delle Rane (Fountain of the Frogs)
- 1.7 7. Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers)
- 1.8 8. Fontana di Nettuno (Neptune Fountain)
- 1.9 9. Fontana del Tritone (Triton Fountain)
- 1.10 10. Fontana dell Api (Fountain of the Bees)
- 1.11 11. Fontana dei Libri (Fountain of the Books)
- 1.12 12. Fontana Dell’Acqua Paola (The Acqua Paola Fountain)
- 1.13 13. Fontana del Pantheon
- 1.14 14. Fontana della Navicella (Fountain of the Small Boat)
- 1.15 15. Fontana della Pigna (Fountain of the Pine Cone)
- 1.16 16. Fontana Degli Artisti (Fountain of the Artists)
- 1.17 17. Fontana delle Botte (Fountain of the Barrel)
- 1.18 18. Fontana dell’Acqua Felice (Fountain of the Acqua Felice or Fountain of Moses)
- 1.19 19. Fontana del Fachino (Fountain of The Porter)
- 1.20 20. Fontana Delle Naiadi (Fountain of the Water Nymphs)
The fountains of Rome fall into one of four categories. Monumental fountains were built at the termini of Rome’s restored aqueducts to supply water to the population. Decorative fountains were designed for well decoration and to provide drinking water. Talking statues are fountains where the human sculptures within them seem to be speaking. Finally, there are wall fountains that are mounted onto walls.
Today, Rome has more than 2000 fountains. These vary from the monumental fountains to the tiny. Here are 20 of the most beautiful fountains in Rome.
1. Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)
How could I not start with this renowned Baroque-style fountain? It’s a true artwork, consisting of Carrara marble statues and sea reefs made from travertine. At the centre, you’ll see Neptune, flanked by two Tritons and sea horses, which is meant to represent the oceans’ alternate moods.
The Trevi Fountain is located at a junction of three roads and was one of the original sources of water in Ancient Rome. A competition was held in the 1700s by Pope Clement XII for a new design for the fountain. Nicola Salvi was awarded the prize.
The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762, 11 years after Salvi died. Work on the fountain was completed by four other sculptors. More recently restorations have been conducted in 1988, 1998 and 2013.
Legend has it that if you throw one coin into the Trevi Fountain you will return to Rome. Two coins mean that you will return to Rome and you will fall in love. Three coins mean you will return to Rome, find love and marry.
The coin is supposed to be thrown by the right hand over the left shoulder for maximum results. In 2016 about USD$1.5 million was thrown into the Trevi Fountain. The money goes to the needy of Rome.
The Trevi Fountain is free to visit and gets very busy. The hours between midday and 7 pm tend to be the busiest so do try to avoid them. The fountain lights up once the sun goes down which can make for some lovely photos.
To reach Trevi Fountain, catch the metro to Piazza Barberini. From here, head west on Via del Tritone, then south on Via Stamperia until you reach the square where the fountain is situated.
2. Fontana Della Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain)
It isn’t difficult to figure how Fontana Della Tartarughe got its name. This fountain in Piazza Mattei features bronzed turtles jumping off its top level. The original fountain was designed in the 1580s by Giacomo della Porta. There were no turtles in the original design – these were added 100 years later by one of Rome’s most famous sculptors – Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Piazza Mattei is named after the family that paid for the fountain in the 16th century. The fountain appears in a legend about the Mattei family. Apparently, the head of the Mattei family was a bit of a gambler. He is said to have made a bet with nobleman that he could build a fountain in one evening.
The nobleman wasn’t aware that all of the preparatory work had been done for the fountain already and was just waiting for assembly. The legend has it that the next morning Mr. Mattei proudly displayed his fountain to the nobleman and received his slightly ill-gotten gains.
3. Fontana Della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Leaky Boat)
The wonderfully named (well this is the literal translation) Fontana Della Barcaccia is located in Piazza di Spagna and can be seen from the Spanish Steps. The fountain was commissioned by Pope Urban VII and was created by Pietro Bernini and his son Gian Lorenzo.
The design was inspired by the story of the flood of the river Tiber at Christmas of 1598. During that flood, Rome was completely covered in water and the only way for residents to get around was by boat. The legend says that this boat was left in Piazza di Spagna and this inspired the unique boat design.
4. Quattro Fontane (The Four Fountains)
These four late Renaissance fountains are located at the crossing of Via delle Quattro Fontane and Via del Quirinale. The four fountains were commissioned by Pope Sixtus V and were installed between 1588 and 1593. The first of the four fountains is said to represent the River Tiber.
The second fountain was inspired by the River Aniene which provided most Roman aqueducts with water. The third and fourth fountains are believed to represent goddesses. The third is believed to be Goddess Diana, the symbol of chastity and was designed by Pietro da Cortona.
The fourth fountain is believed to be Goddess Juno, the symbol of strength. This fountain, as well as the first and second fountains, were all the work of Domenico Fontana.
5. Fontana Delle Anfore (Fountain of the Amphorae)
This beautiful fountain in the Testaccio area of Rome was designed by Pietro Lombardi. Amphorae refer to the terracotta containers on which the fountain was based. Testaccio was a port area in Rome. These terracotta containers were used to bring items such as olive oil and dry goods into ancient Rome.
The oil from the goods seeped into the terracotta and made it impossible to reuse them. The amphorae were often broken into pieces which went on to form the artificial Mount Testaccio for which the area is named. The fountain was installed in 1927. However, it was moved to Piazza dell’Emporio in 1935 due to unstable soil conditions in Piazza Testaccio. The fountain returned to its original home in Testaccio in 2015.
6. Fontana Delle Rane (Fountain of the Frogs)
Fontana Delle Rane in Piazza Mincio was created between 1921 and 1927 by architect Gino Coppede. The fountain is a mix of different architectural styles which was intended to reflect the diversity of the neighborhood in which it is located. The lower basin or “pond” is a mix of masks and men supporting a large shell that contains a frog.
The upper edges of the fountain have eight more frogs who appear to be jumping over the water of the fountain. It is said that Coppede intended to pay homage to the Fountain of the Turtles with Fontana Delle Rane.
7. Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers)
The beautiful Piazza Navona is home to three stunning fountains. Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumini was constructed for the Pope in 1651. The fountain was designed by Bernini. The centrepiece of the fountain is a tall obelisk which is surrounded by four figures which represent the great rivers of the world: Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio de la Plata. I was pleased to discover that Australia had been discovered at this time but not explored and thus was left out of the fountain.
A dove, olive branch and the Pope’s coat of arms can be found at the bottom of the fountain.
8. Fontana di Nettuno (Neptune Fountain)
Fontana di Nettuno is the second of the three fountains in Piazza Navona. This fountain was built in 1576 by Giacomo della Porto. The Neptune statues were added in the 19th century. The main figure of the fountain is the God of the Water Neptune. Neptune is shown in battle with an octopus.
The third fountain is Fontana del Moro which is at the southern end of the Piazza.
9. Fontana del Tritone (Triton Fountain)
Fontana del Tritone was commissioned by Pope Urban VII in the 17th century. It was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This Rome fountain in Piazza Barberini was the first free-standing fountain designed by Bernini. This was the first time that the idea of a sculptural foundation which was found in villa gardens was used in a public urban setting.
At the centre of the Triton Fountain is a muscular Triton who is depicted as a merman kneeling on the backs of four dolphins. The Triton’s head is thrown back and he has a conch raised to his lips. A jet of water spurts from the conch. The four dolphins at the base of the statue entwine a papal tiara and crossed keys.
10. Fontana dell Api (Fountain of the Bees)
This small but beautiful fountain is located not far from the Triton Fountain at the beginning of Via Vittorio Veneto. It was also designed by Bernini. The fountain was constructed in 1644 in honour of Pope Urban VIII Barberini. The bee was the symbol of the Barberini family.
The pope’s name is written on the seashell in the fountain. The seashell features an inscription that states that the fountain’s water is meant to be used by the general public and their animals.
11. Fontana dei Libri (Fountain of the Books)
This second small fountain was designed in 1927 by Pietro Lombardi. The fountain is a round arch with the head of a deer in its centre. The deer is the symbol of the Sant’Eustachio district in which Fontana Dei Libri is located. On the sides of the fountain, four ancient books are carved into its shelves. Water flows from bookmark-shaped spouts in the fountain.
This fountain on Via Degli Staderai was in honour of the University of Sapienza. Today the state archives sit are behind the wall of the fountain.
12. Fontana Dell’Acqua Paola (The Acqua Paola Fountain)
The Fontana Dell’Acqua Paola is one of the best-known fountains in Rome. It has appeared in various movies and songs. The fountain is also known as Fontanone del Giancolo or the big fountain on the Janiculus as it rises at the top of that hill on via Garibaldi.
The fountain was commissioned by Pope Paul V to celebrate the redevelopment of the Aqua Triana aqueduct. The goal of the redevelopment was to deliver water to Trastevere, Borgo, and the Vatican. The fountain was built by Giovanni Fontana and Flaminio Ponzio and was completed in 1614.
The red and gray marble columns of this Rome fountain have been part of the basilica of St Peter. The design was inspired by the ancient arches of triumph. It features five arches as well as the papal court of arms held by two angels. Dragons and heraldic eagles also feature in the fountain.
13. Fontana del Pantheon
This Rome fountain sits in Piazza della Rotonda directly in front of the Pantheon. The fountain was designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1571. It comprises of four dolphins and was finished by Filippo Barigioni in 1576.
The fountain was restored in 1711 and topped with an Egyptian obelisk. The obelisk is from the reign of Ramses II and the obelisk was already more than 1000 years old when it was taken from Egypt by the emperor Domitian.
Fontana del Pantheon was the model to the Robba fountain which stands in the town square of Llublijana in Slovenia.
The Fontana della Navicella sits in front of the church of Santa Maria in Domnica on via della Navicella. It was built in 1519 and is believe to have replaced an earlier fountain. From the central part of the boat’s bridge a jet of water emerges and lands in the basin underneath.
The ship is raised on a marble stone and inserted in a flowerbed. The coat of arms which appears on the fountain belongs to Pope Leo X Medici.
15. Fontana della Pigna (Fountain of the Pine Cone)
This unique pine cone fountain is located in St Peter’s in the Vatican in an area called the court of Pigna. The pine cone was cast out of bronze in the 1st or 2nd century by the sculptor Publius Cincius Salvius. His name is written on the the base of the large pine cone.
Prior to its location in Vatican City, the pine cone was located in the Campus Martius. In this location, it was used as a fountain. Water flowed from the holes pierced in the scales of the cone. The giant pine cone moved to its current location via the medieval basilica of St Peter’s in 1608.
16. Fontana Degli Artisti (Fountain of the Artists)
This Rome fontain on via Margutta was built by Pietro Lombardi in the 1920s. Via Margutta was considered the street of artists in the Campo Marzio district where it is located. The fountain has art as its theme to reflect the nature of the street on which sits.
The fountain has a triangular base with two trestles and two masks that throw water. The top of the statue is a bucket containing brushes.
17. Fontana delle Botte (Fountain of the Barrel)
This fountain in Rome was also built by Pietro Lombardi in the 1920s. Located on via della Cisterna, the fountain is set against a brick wall. A cask sits on the fountain’s base. A barrel, which transported wine in ancient Rome, sits above it with a central hole from which water emerges and flows to the cask below.
The area in which the fountain is located was known for taverns and trattoria and wine consumption and good times. Like the other fountains designed by Lombardi in the 1920s, the theme was to capture the spirit and activities of the local area in the design.
On each side of the barrel are one liter terracotta wine containers from which water also emerges.
18. Fontana dell’Acqua Felice (Fountain of the Acqua Felice or Fountain of Moses)
This fountain at Piazza di San Bernardo marks the end of the Acqua Felice aqueduct. It was completed in the 1580s. It was an important occasion at the time as Rome had not had a new aqueduct for many centuries. The name of the fountain came from the birth name of Pope Sixtus V which was Felice Perreti.
This Rome fountain was designed to resemble a Roman triumphal arch. The bottom half of the fountain consists of three arches. The central arch contains a statue of Moses. This statute of Moses has been quite controversial over the years. Its size and appearance have been heavily questioned.
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19. Fontana del Fachino (Fountain of The Porter)
Fontana del Fachino or Il Fachino is one of the talking fountains of Rome and is located on via Lata.. However, this fountain was originally designed to be a statue. It was created around 1580 and designed by Jacopo del Conte. The statue is of a man who is wearing a cap and a sleeved shirt.
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He is carrying a barel or acquarolo. These barrels were used to take water from the Tiber river to sell on the streets of Rome before the acqueducts were repaired. Water spouts from the centre of the barrel creating a fountain.
The statue was often thought to be of Martin Luther as the man wears a cap. As a result, it literally has had many stones thrown at it over the centuries which have damaged the man’s face.
20. Fontana Delle Naiadi (Fountain of the Water Nymphs)
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Fontana Delle Naiadi on Piazza della Repubblica was built in the 19th century. The fountain was originally decorated by four lions. The lions were replaced in the 20th century by Mario Rutelli’s bronze water nymphs or naiads. Each of the nymphs rests on a creature that represents the different forms of water: a swan (lakes), lizard (streams), seahorse (oceans) and water snake (rivers).
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