A Walking Tour of Rome’s 3 most Iconic Fountains

Discover Rome

Vacationing in the Eternal City means being fascinated and surprised by every glimpse, corner, square, monument, or church that, sometimes almost suddenly, will appear before you. The millennia-old history of Rome, with its countless events, from the Ancient Roman Empire to the present day, is narrated through the symbolic places of the city, from north to south, from east to west.

Certainly, an original way to get to know the Eternal City in-depth is to plan a walking itinerary in the heart of Rome, discovering three of the most emblematic fountains in the Italian capital.


The Majestic Trevi Fountain: Rome’s Aquatic Gem

We start our walking tour behind one of Rome’s most well-known streets, Via del Corso. Hidden in the small urban maze of narrow streets, one of the largest and most scenic fountains in Rome appears almost suddenly like a mirage. We are talking about the Trevi Fountain, a must-visit for any stay in Rome.

This is where the Acqua Vergine converges, the aqueduct that Marco Vespasiano Agrippa built to supply the baths in 19 B.C.

In 1453, Pope Nicholas V commissioned Leon Battista Alberti to restore the fountain, replacing the existing structure with a single large basin. He later passed the task to Giacomo Della Porta and Gian Lorenzo Bernini for decorative embellishment: the pontiff intended to transform it into a grandiose work, a symbol of the wealth of the papacy. Bernini proposed wonderful projects, but all were quite expensive, leading to an increase in wine taxes. This caused a deadlock in the realization, and Bernini did not see it completed. It was only a century later, with Pope Clement XII, that it was finished by Nicolò Salvi and Giuseppe Panni, officially inaugurated in 1762.

A true monumental work, the Trevi Fountain displays a large central niche with the statue of Oceanus and Corinthian columns on either side. Four statues from 1735 adorn the grand work, symbolizing, from left to right, the Abundance of Fruits by Agostino Corsini, the Fertility of Fields by Bernardo Ludovisi, the Gifts of Autumn by Francesco Queirolo, and the Delight of Meadows by Bartolomeo Pincellotti.

The Trevi Fountain has become a must-visit for any tourist in Rome, especially for a tradition associated with the fountain: throwing a coin, which no one can resist. This gesture must be done by standing with your back, placing your right hand on your left shoulder and closing your eyes. If you turn quickly, once the coin is thrown, you can stop the moment when the coin touches the water with your gaze, ensuring a return to the Eternal City.


Turtle Fountain: A Hidden Gem in Rome’s Historic Heart

Leaving behind the imposing Trevi Fountain and walking towards the ancient Jewish Ghetto, delving into the pulsating heart of authentic Rome in the Sant’Angelo district, you come across the Turtle Fountain, created between 1581 and 1588 according to the design of Giacomo della Porta, located in Piazza Mattei.

The work displays four bronze ephebes playing with as many dolphins, resting on shell-shaped basins, emphasizing the mannerist refinement of the fountain that stylistically distinguishes it from the scheme adopted in Roman fountains at the end of the sixteenth century. The four turtles placed on the edge of the upper basin, attributed to Bernini, constitute a successful completion of the work carried out during the restoration of 1658-59, under the pontificate of Alexander.


Fountain of the Four Rivers: Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Masterpiece

A few hundred meters from the Jewish Ghetto, the walking tour of three of Rome’s most iconic fountains concludes in beauty. In the splendid setting of Piazza Navona stands the magnificent Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed and built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini between 1648 and 1651 at the request of Pope Innocent X.

In the center of a low elliptical basin, the fountain is imagined as a large travertine cliff, excavated from a cave with four openings, supporting the imposing granite obelisk that rises at the center of the fountain. On the corners of the cliff are placed the monumental marble statues of the four rivers representing the continents then known, also identified by the vegetation and animals sculpted beside them: the Danube by Antonio Ercole Raggi for Europe, with the horse; the Ganges by Claude Poussin for Asia, with the oar and the dragon; the Nile by Giacomo Antonio Fancelli for Africa, with the veiled head (alluding to unknown sources) associated with the lion and the palm; the Rio de la Plata by Francesco Baratta for America with a raised arm – perhaps to shield itself from the sun’s rays represented by the obelisk – and beside it, an armadillo.

A masterful fusion of architecture and sculpture, the Fountain of the Four Rivers expresses movement in every sculptural detail, engaging the viewer who remains captivated.

In conclusion, then, a stay in Rome cannot be considered complete without having visited at least some of the fountains that adorn the numerous squares of the historic center. These works of art tell us an interesting snapshot of the traditions and historical events of certain historical periods.

You can start this Walking Tour from Hotel Santa Prisca