Fountains in Rome … there are over 2000! Once upon a time people went to get their drinking water from one of these fountains, other larger fountains were used to wash clothes as well as for other domestic purposes but some were and are celebratory monuments.
The Fountain of Trevi is fairly recent renovation of an already existing monumental Roman fountain which marked the terminal point of three aqueducts. But anyone who’s ever visited Rome won’t be surprised by that. Many churches, monuments and plazas have been standing since the time of Rome only to have been “renovated”, their use converted from their former purpose by later generations of potentates, usually a Pope. In this case, Pope Urbano VIII (1629) felt the fountain wasn’t dramatic enough and commissioned Bernini to present plans for the renovation of the fountain. He died though before the project was completed and the project was taken up again only a century later by another Pope (1730 Pope Clement XII) and architect (Nicola Salvi) who kept some of Bernini’s ideas in his own project.
When I first saw the Fountain of Trevi I was a little surprised and disconcerted. I’d seen it in a clip from a film many years before, Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita”. There Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroiani play in the fountain one summer evening. I’d gotten the impression that it must be in a large piazza … I mean look at that fountain! But no, this isn’t the case. It’s a very small plaza, completely dominated by the fountain which is surrounded by buildings on three sides, a street circling it separates it from the surrounding buildings.
The Fountain is totally out of proportion to the size of the plaza giving me a feeling of being closed in. Of course a photographer would have a hard time capturing the reality of the plaza … unless like Anita, he took his picture from inside the fountain itself!
in a shoe box
Written for Ligo Haibun – Bridge or Fountain