Touring Rome’s Iconic Fountains

We have led many tours around Rome over the years, and the city’s artistic and imaginative celebration of running water is one of the universal highlights that guarantees to delight almost every visitor, regardless of age, sex or nationality. In fact, one of the greatest honours that could be given to an artist or sculptor was the commission to build a fountain for the city.

When you join one of our Rome tours, we make sure that you get to see some of the most spectacular (and some of the lesser known but equally imaginative) fountains that elevate Rome’s urban architecture to the stuff of legends.

Fontana della Barcaccia
At some point during their stay in Rome, most visitors will hang out on the Spanish Steps. When you head that way with one of our guides, you will see the extraordinary fountain designed by Pietro Bernini. Our guests usually agree with us that its name, ‘the Fountain of the Ugly Boat’ (Fontana della Barcaccia) is a fitting description for this rather strange monument.

One should not judge the great sculptor and architect Bernini’s sense of aesthetics based on this fountain. It is a monument to the legend of a stray boat that was washed into the Piazza di Spagna when the Tiber flooded the city in 1598.

Regardless of whether you sign up to a short tour to get your bearings in Rome, are spending a full day or two in our company, or are trying out the guided atmospheric jogging session around the Eternal City, our guides will ensure that you get a chance to see this frankly weird urban sculpture.

Fountain of the Four Rivers
Your guide will take you to Piazza Navona so that you can compare the work of father and son.

The fountain here was designed by Pietro’s son Gian Lorenzo Bernini, but I always feel that the only thing that these two monuments have in common is the blood that ran through the veins of their sculptors.

Four regal rivers of the globe, representing the four continents where papal authority had spread, are personified in marble: the Nile (Africa), the Ganges (Asia), the Danube (Europe) and the Rio de la Plata (the Americas).

When you reach Piazza Navona, our guides can cater to any length of attention span, as the symbolism embedded in the elaborate carving is endlessly fascinating.

Trevi Fountain
If you like Rome enough that you plan to come back, then you can’t miss the Trevi Fountain. Legend states that when you throw a coin into the water, you’ll guarantee that one day you’ll return. Almost all of our Rome tours will stop at this momentous monument.

Planned as the largest Baroque fountain in the City, the Trevi Fountain’s commission was the subject of fierce competition between the leading architects of the eighteenth century. The raw energy of the monument is generated by the rushing water that cascades from the centre, coupled with the powerful sculpture of Oceanus sitting astride a horse-drawn shell chariot.

Your guide will give you the lowdown on the many stories behind the bitter artistic rivalries which enveloped this masterpiece, as well as the thrilling legends it depicts.

Off the Beaten Path
Some of our Rome tours will also take you past the less showy but equally impressive fountains that are scattered off the beaten path in the Eternal City.

When you come for a guided jog with us, you’ll run through the Jewish Ghetto, where there is a delightful water-based surprise. The Fountain of Turtles (Fontana delle Tartarughe) is a quirky bronze and marble monument, depicting a group of boys helping turtles climb into a basin over their heads. It’s weird, but still rather charming.

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