A Roman Holiday: A Tour Of Rome Through Historical Fountains of Rome

Roman Flow: The Fountains of Rome
Part of the Fountain of Four Rivers

I have been to Italy(read more here) every year for the past 5 years and each time I have been, I can guarantee an Italian mattering the question “eh, you know eh the meaning of this, your name?”(in my best in Italian accent of course). Followed by me tilting my head puppy dog style with a nodd replying with “Si!”. For some of you who know even the basics of Italian(or drink white wine?) will know that my name means white in Italian. So when they see a brown girl with this name few of them are somewhat puzzled. Just to balance things out my last name has several meanings one of which is the colour brown so I guess that balances things out. So with each of my visits I kind dance around between pretending not to know the meaning and to declaring that I am aware of the meaning then dusting out my GCSE Italian for little conversation when this question comes, which surprises locals even more(my Italian is not that great but it never fails to amuse).
I was looking through some of my pictures from my trip to Rome in May and noticed just how many fountains I had come across in Rome. Rome has some 280 fountains! Almost every piazza has a fountain. All really beautiful works of art and each with a story of its own. They are quite simply an attraction you cannot miss out on when in Rome.The rich history and culture of Rome, both past and old can be told through the many fountains found around the city.  They were mainly used to convey and showcase the power and wealth of many Roman patrons with powerful influence and control over the city’s cultural heritage. The fountains also served as a way of bringing water into the city. To this day much of the fountain’s waters in Rome is drinkable with some  people considering the water to have some sort of restorative properties.

So next time you are in Rome, don’t just head for the typical spots like the Colosseum and Trevi but wonder around the streets and watch the drama unfold before you with these beautifully sculptured fountains that tell tales of noble families, papacy and the legacy of the city.  Seeing them requires very little effort as there are so many of them to see and what’s even nicer about this is that its FREE!!! 

Below are some of my favourites I came across whilst walking around Rome.
Fountain of Four Rivers(also known as Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi)
Fountain of Four Rivers(also known as Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi)
Fontana dei Fiumi (Fountain of the four Rivers) (1648-51) by prolific sculptor Gianlorenozo Benini who also has works throughout Rome and the Vatican City. This is one of the most popular fountains in Rome,  the centerpiece in Piazza Navona, signifying the four principal rivers: The Ganges, Nile, Rio de la Plata and Danube Rivers. Each of the rivers is surrounded by flora, fauna, and other indigenous symbols to the origins of the river. The fountain also features an ancient Egyptian obelisk standing at 70 feet tall.
The Fountain of Moses(also called Fontana dell'Acqua Felice/Fontana del Mose)
The Fountain of Moses(also called Fontana dell’Acqua Felice/Fontana del Mose)

Moses Fountain(1587) commemorating the opening of Acqua Felice. We passed this late in the evening to walk off the most amazing grilled steak I have ever tasted, apparently from Florence(its neck in neck with the Zambian T-Bone steak). The fountain of Moses is monumental in the Qirinale district. Designed by Domenico Fontana and marks the end of the Acqua Felice aqueduct. It features 3 arches and the Pope’s papal coat of arms.


Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain


Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain) (1732-62) by Nicola Salvi (1732) and completed by Giuseppe Panini in 1762), commemorating the completion of the Acqua Vergine in 19 B.C. This is the most famous fountain in Italy. A baroque masterpiece located in Piazza di Trevi. Every busy at all times of the day with tourist throwing coins into its pool as legend has it, if you toss coins over your shoulder into its waters, you will return to Rome one day.  I didn’t toss a coin in but I am pretty hopeful of a return trip.


Fountain of Nymphs - Piazza della Repubblica/Fontana della Naiadi
Fountain of Nymphs – Piazza della Repubblica/Fontana della Naiadi
Fontana delle Naiadi (Nymphs) (1900) – Dating back to 19th to early 20th century, the Fountain of Nymphs was very controversial at the time because of the nude figures. Located in the Piazza della Repubblica near Stazione Termini where I stayed and perhaps Romes’s most sensual of fountains and features Glaucus, the God of Water, perched surrounded by naids or nymphs which represent the four types of water: the rivers, the oceans, the lakes and the underground waters.
The Turtle Fountain(Fontane della Tartarughe)
The Turtle Fountain(Fontane della Tartarughe)
Fontana delle Tartarughe (Tortoise Fountain) (1581-84) built by Taddeo Landini and Giacomo della Porta, located in Piazza Mattei. This is one of my favourites next to the fountain of four rivers. I came across this on the way to the Jewish Quarters for a tour of the Synagogue. The tour was part of my visit to the Jewish Museum of Rome with few rooms of artifacts and history of Jews in Italy. This diminutive fountain is a little hidden so not over crowed by tourist. Designed by Giacomo della Porta who also designed a few other fountains in Rome. It features four male figures propped on dolphins assisting tiny turtles into a small pool above them, hence the name “Turtle fountain”. This can be found in Piazza Mattei near the Jewish Quarters previously and sometimes referred to as Jewish Ghetto.

Interesting fact: The term “ghetto” originated from the name of the Jewish quarter in Venice, established in 1516, in which the Venetian authorities compelled the city’s Jews to live. Various officials, ranging from local municipal authorities to the Austrian Emperor Charles V, ordered the creation of ghettos for Jews in Frankfurt, Rome, Prague, and other cities in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Have you come across any of these fountains in Rome? So which was your favourite fountain in Rome? Please share!

Please don’t forget to “like” me on Facebook if you haven’t done so already! Thanks for your support!


  1. August 3, 2013 / 9:55 pm

    We were in Rome very briefly once and the Trevi fountain was my favorite of these. I would love to go back! Visiting from the Friendly Friday blog hop and A Dish of Daily Life!

  2. August 4, 2013 / 6:17 pm

    I've never been to Rome but its on my bucket list! I had no idea there were so many beautiful fountains there. Those are lovely photos. Thanks for sharing this on Friendly Friday xx

  3. August 10, 2013 / 1:12 pm

    Rome is amazing isn't it ? I have only been once but would love to go back. Found you via Friendly Friday x

  4. September 19, 2016 / 12:13 pm

    Admittedly I've only traveled abroad just a little bit, but I've been to Rome and they have the most beautiful fountains out of anywhere else I've been by far.

    Sarah | Outdoor Fountain Pros

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Exclusive Member of Mediavine Travel