Friday, March 13, 2015

Past POIs - Trevi Fountain [Rome, Italy]

In 2013 my girlfriend and I went to Italy and our first stop was Rome which has an enormous number of things to see regardless of what you are interested in and one of the stops that we visited was Trevi Fountain (or Fontana di Trevi in Italian).

Main section of Trevi Fountain at night
Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.  A long time ago, soldiers used to be lead here by a virgin woman for water and an acqueduct termination point was constructed here around 19 B.C. by Agrippa.  In 1629 Pope Urban VIII thought the fountain wasn't dramatic enough and commissioned work to be done which unfortunately was incomplete since the project was abandoned when the pope died in 1644.  And it stayed this way for almost 100 years until Pope Clement XII, in 1730, called for a competition to complete the fountain and it took until 1762 to complete and it is what you see today.

The fountain is 26.3 meters (85 feet) high, 49.5 meters (160 feet) wide and spills 80,000 cubic meters of water every day!

Legend has it that if visitors throw a coin, using your right hand over your left shoulder, into the fountain, they will likely return to Rome.  Because of this, an estimated 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain every day!  For those curious, this money is used to subsidize a supermarket for the needy.

Main section during the day
The site is free to visit, so make sure to stop by during the day and at night for a different view on the fountain.  It is actually conveniently located a short 5 minute walk from Barberini train station, so you have no excuse to miss it if you are in Rome!

Due to age, size, and popularity, this site has and is going through various restoration efforts to make sure that it is here to last.  In 1998 the fountain was refurbished with extensive cleaning and repairs made to it.  And in more recent times, 2013, Fendi announced that they would spend 2.2 million euros over 20 months to restore the fountain making it the most thorough restoration in the fountain's history.  As of December 2014, the fountain pool has been drained and scaffolding now covers the fountain for it's repairs which are expected to be completed by October 2015.

Majority of Trevi Fountain
There is a lot to this fountain and after reading up and learning about it, it is all quite neat but if you aren't interested in the details, you can skip the remainder of this post.

The giant columns that you see that span what looks like 2 stories is called a 'giant order' which is an architecture design found in many buildings.  At the top of the columns you will notice that intricately designed caps, these are Corinthian pilasters.  Taming of the waters is the theme of the facade.  Oceanus on a shell-shaped chariot is the main focal point and center of the facade.

Left of Oceanus is Abundance holding a horn of plenty (looks like a basket of fruits and vegetables) and at her feet is a toppled over vase which is spilling water.  Above her is a relief (an image depicting a scene) of Agrippa commanding his generals to build the acqueduct.

Right is Health who is holding a cup which a snake drinks out of.  Above her is a relief of a virgin lady showing the source of water to the soldiers.

Near the top are 4 ladies, each meant to depict the good effects of rain on Earth fertility and the four major produces that depend on water.  From left to right:

Statue #1 - holds a horn of plenty and symbolizes abundance of fruit
Statue #2 - holds ears of wheat and symbolizes fertility of crops
Statue #3 - holds a cup and bunches of grapes and symbolizes products of autumn
Statue #4 - is adorned with flowers and symbolizes joy of prairies and gardens

Above the 4 statues is the following inscription: CLEMENS XII PONT. MAX. AQUAM VIRGINEM COPIA ET SALBRITATE COMMENDATAM CULTO MAGNIFICO ORNAVIT ANNO DOMINI MDCCXXXV PONT VI.  This translates to Clemens XII Pontifex Maximus decorated the Virgin Acqueduct and committed it with abundance and salubrity to the magnific cult in the Year of the Lord 1735, 6th year of his pontification.

Below this is another inscription: PERFECIT BENEDICTUS XIV PONT. MAX. which translates to Benedict XIV Pontifex Maximus made perfect.

And just below this but above Oceanus, Abundance and Health: POSITIS SIGNIS ET ANAGLIPHIS TABULIS IUSSU CLEMENTIS XIII PONT. MAX. OPUS CUM OMNI CULTU ABSOLUTUM A. D. MDCCLXII which translates to The statues and the reliefs were decreed to be placed here by Clemens XIII Pontifex Maximus and the work was solved from every further work and care in the Year of the Lord 1762.

Below the 3 main statues, there are two male statues next to two horses.  The male statues are Tritons and the two horses are hippocamps (in Greek mythology they are half horse and half seahorse).  The Triton on the left is trying to control a hippocamp trying to get away which the Triton on the right is older but in control of his hippocamp and is holding a twisted shell to announce their passage (much like how in the past, trumpets or horns were sounded for the arrival of someone important).

I hope you enjoyed the history lesson.  I wish I knew this information prior to going because I would have spent more time viewing the details and understanding the fountain.

Join me next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!