Sunday, January 28, 2007

Italia Rome - III

Left the Vatican to explore the city further, but just before that we caught a bite to eat at one of the roadside vans which you will find near every tourist spot. Now the van was being run by Bangladeshi brothers. Infact everywhere in Rome, you will see lot of Bangladeshi guys selling stuff on the street, managing souvenir shops and other things. Since my friend is a Bengali he managed some cool discounts and some handy travel tips throughout our stay in Rome.

From Vatican we started walking towards out next destination, the Spanish Steps. En route we came across Castel Sant'Angelo. The Mausoleum of Hadrian, popularly known as Castel Sant'Angelo, initially was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building spent over a thousand years as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.

It was in the late 16th century that the French king comissioned the building of the steps to reach the Trinità dei Monti church, which is one of the two french national churches in rome(other one being San Luigi dei Francesi). However the steps were finally built between the 1723 -1726. Now the square below was called Piazza di Spangna hence the steps got the name Spanish Steps. In the early 19th century Keats & Shelley lived and worked here. During that time so many English were there that it was nicknamed ‘The English Ghetto’. The house right to the steps where Keats died in 1821 now houses the Keats Shelley Museum.

In the middle of the square you see a fountain which was comissioned by Pope Urban VIII to commemorate a destructive flood in Tiber around 1600. After the water receeded the boat was found at the spot. La Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Boat). It was the last work of architect Pietro Bernini, father of the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
On the steps and around the fountain a lot of people assemble just to laze around, catch a breath or just do nothing. You may also see a lot of locals there. At the top of the steps you will find the church and lots of artists displaying their work. The street which leads you to the steps is lined on both sides by some of the best names in fashion - D&G, Versace, Gucci et al and you may also find a line outside each such shop for entry.

From Spanish Steps we headed to Fontana di Trevi. Probably one of the most famous fountains in the world. Some of you readers might recall the famous scene from Federico Fellini’s movie La Dolce Vita, with Swedish actress Anita Ekberg in the fountain. One of the most celebrated images from cinema.

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The fountain is located at the intersection of three roads hence namedtre-vi(a). Work started in 1732 under architect Nicola Salvi and got completed in 1762. Giuseppe Pannini finished the work after Salvi’s death in 1751.

On top of the fountain is the coat of arms of Pope Clement XII, who began work on the fountain. In the center is the magnificent figure of Oceanus(Neptune), son of the Sky and the Earth, which dominates everything in its regality. He is the power of water, impressive in his capacity to give life and at the samer time destroy it. He advaces in a chariot in the form of a shell. His chariot is pulled to two sea horses accompanied by tritons. The horse on the left advances violently symbolizing the sea in tempest, indicative of its violent, destructive nature. While the horse on the right advances calmly representing the calm state of the waters, useful and life giving. The two niches at the sides of Oceanus are the allegoric statues of Fertility(left) and Healthiness(right).

The foutain looks most impressive during night when the sculptures n the water is floodlit. A traditional legend says that if a visitor throws a coin into the fountain, he is ensured a return to Rome. Two coins will ensure a marriage will occur soon, while three coins leads to a divorce. However you need to throw the coins in a special way. Turn your back to the fountain n throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.

After Trevi it was time to head back and we made a walk till our hotel stopping shortly in between at the Piazza della Republica. The Fountain of the Naiads sits in the center. Naiads are the nymphs who protect rivers, lakes, oceans and the underground. Although finished in 1900, the fountain was not turned on until a year later because the female statues were considered by many people too provocative for the times.


Sakshi said...

Once again, Amazing pics and nice commentary.
And you mentioned one of my fav films.. Fellini's masterpiece. Sadly one can not bathe in the fountains there.. I think it is a crime ..

Chitrangada said...


cool post hain dexter but that boat fountain was realy nice n itni saari info tum laate kahan se ho ..i think u shd try ur hand in "Raju Guide " thing :D