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The Trevi Fountain Guards Many Secrets – Rome, Italy

The Trevi Fountain Guards Many Secrets
Rome, Italy

What would Rome be like without its piazzas and fountains? Certainly the piazza is a requisite item in any survival kit for city dwellers. In Rome where the onslaught of cars, vespas and tourists produce mayhem, the piazza becomes a refuge for locals and visitors alike. It is the living room of people confined in small apartments. It is the gathering place, the children’s playground, the place to see and be seen, and the place to enjoy the sound of whispering fountains while watching the world go by.

The Piazza Navona is a good place to watch
The Piazza Navona is a good place to watch “la dolce vita”
One of the most celebrated piazzas in Rome is Piazza Navona. The square is a lively stage with Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, its sienna and apricot painted apartments along with its hawkers of fake designer handbags and original art. When Rome starts to wear you down, it’s time to sit at one of many outdoor cafés on Piazza Navona and watch “la dolce vita” unfold in front of you. The Tre Scalini is a good place to stop and mend the senses.

Speaking of Bernini, he was also an accomplished sculptor. Two of his most famous works are the Apollo and Daphne and the Ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. The latter is a scene depicting an angel about to pierce the heart of the saint. The expression on the face of St. Teresa has been described as “sensual” by art critics. The figures of Apollo and Daphne in the Borghese Museum portray a fleeing Daphne turning into a tree as Apollo chases her. Discovering or rediscovering Bernini’s masterpieces is one of the highlights of any visit to the eternal city.

Within walking distance of Piazza Navona is the Pantheon. Its beautiful coffered dome has served as model for many similar subsequent structures. The great painter Raphael lies here in repose along with kings Vittorio Emmanuele II and Umberto I.

In front of the Pantheon is the compact Piazza Rotonda. There’s no better place to sit and savor a gelato while pondering the great builders who created a harmonious structure without the technological know-how we take for granted today.

Piazza Rotonda is the best place to savor a gelato while admiring the Pantheon
Piazza Rotonda is the best place to savor a gelato while admiring the Pantheon
On the other side of town, the Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna offer grandstand seats for visitors with sore feet from shopping in the neighboring streets. The steps which lead up to the Church of Sta. Trinità dei Monti, provide a good view of Bernini’s Fountain of the Barcaccia (Wretched Boat) and the entire length of Via Condotti. With so many young people hanging out here, the only thing missing to start a dance party is the sound of pop music blaring from the rooftops.

Shop windows along Via Condotti display art of the wearable kind. This street is probably the forerunner of exclusive shopping streets which have found their niches in cities worldwide. But if couture moves you not, then step into one of several small 18th century salons at Caffè Greco and imagine the famous writers who once gathered in these rooms. You might very well be sitting on the same banquette where John Keats sat while writing some of his melancholy poems or where Goethe read his works to friends and admirers.

Rome takes on a distinct personality when night descends upon the ruins of the great Roman Empire. Under cover of darkness, the hard edges of stone are muted and deep shadows give free rein to the imagination. It’s easy to visualize the bacchanalia in the Golden House of Nero, the Vestal Virgins tending the sacred fire, the thousands of spectators in the Colosseum cheering gladiators on.

Toss a coin into the Trevi fountain and make a wish
Toss a coin into the Trevi fountain and make a wish
What different times we live in today that I have this luxury to muse about returning to Rome in the near future! At the Piazza Fontana di Trevi, I toss two coins into the fountain. Why two? The first one is for a wish to return to Rome soon and the second is something the Trevi will keep hush-hush as it has since the first visitors entrusted it with their secrets.


Where to stay: The four-star Hotel Universo is near Termini Station and Piazza della Repubblica. Address is Via Principe Amedeo, 5/b.

Café sitting: The Tre Scalini on Piazza Navona faces the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Caffè Greco is on Via Condotti 86.

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