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Top 5 fountains in Rome

Throughout the city you will find majestic fountains presiding over the squares of Rome. Want to find the most impressive ones? Check out this list for tips!

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

Jun 12, 2021 • 6 min read

Top 5 fountains in Rome

One of the fountains in Piazza Navona | ©Shutterstock

Water has traditionally been an element of great importance in the architecture of Rome: its aqueducts brought water to every corner of the ancient empire, which was understood as a symbol of greatness.

But water is also considered the element that best represents purity in art, and that explains why the Eternal City has an endless number of fountains, in which such a precious treasure is displayed in thousands of different ways. Of the more than 2,000 fountains in the city, here's a list of my favorites and the ones I think you can't miss during your trip. Here are the 5 most beautiful fountains in Rome.

1. Trevi Fountain

Fontana di Trevi | ©Michele Bittetto
Fontana di Trevi | ©Michele Bittetto

The Fontana di Trevi is the most famous fountain in Rome and certainly in the whole world. It is an imposing set of sculptures in baroque style that rises above a pool of clear water in a true display of beauty.

After Anita Ekberg bathed in the Trevi Fountain in Fellini's film 'La Dolce Vita', the fountain became a place of pilgrimage and even today is a place with a whole series of traditions, such as throwing coins into the fountain to call for good luck, to make sure you will return to Rome, or find love.

The fountain is an allegory of the taming of the sea, with the central statue of Ocean (the god Neptune) in the main niche mounted on a shell chariot, pulled by sea horses and tritons, between two statues representing health and abundance. The two horses, one in a wild state and the other tame, are the representation of the two states of the sea.

Bernini was the creator of the original idea for the Trevi Fountain, but upon the death of his patron Pope Urban VIII, the sculptor and architect fell into discredit. Using his original plans, Nicola Salvi continued the project under the papacy of Clement XII and completed it almost a century after Bernini's first vision of this iconic fountain.

Where to find it and how to get there

The Trevi Fountain is located in Via delle Muratte, in the Trevi district. To get there, the nearest metro stop is Barberini, but what most people do is walk from the Spanish Steps as the route is quite easy to follow.

As you might expect, the Trevi Fountain receives millions of visitors every year and is crowded on a daily basis, which can be a bit overwhelming since the Piazza di Trevi is almost more of a narrow street. If you want to enjoy the fountain in all its splendor and discover its magic, I recommend visiting at dawn or late at night.

2. Acqua Paola Fountain

Fontana dell'Acqua Paola | ©Wikimedia
Fontana dell'Acqua Paola | ©Wikimedia

This fountain can be considered the sister of the Trevi Fountain: designed by Giovanni Fontana, it was originally intended as a set of five small pools, but at the time of its construction, the architect decided to unify them into a single pool, based on a design by Bernini for the Trevi Fountain that was never realized.

The Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, also known as Il Fontanone, is a monumental fountain located on the hill of Gianicolo. It was built in 1612 at the end of the Acqua Paola aqueduct, named after Pope Paul V who ordered its restoration.

Being on top of the hill, the place of the fountain has a certain magical aura, especially at sunset time when you can enjoy beautiful views of Rome while listening to the water of the fountain flowing. The simplicity and elegance of the fountain convey a lot of peace, and one detail I couldn't help but notice was the small inner courtyard behind the façade illuminated by the last rays of the sun.

Before returning to the city center, I took a walk through the area behind the fountain and found some very nice streets to spend the last part of the day, with remains of walls on which the ivy grew and a couple of pretty buildings that I did not expect to find. Making the most of your ascent to the Gianicolo, I recommend you not to miss the Tempietto of San Pietro in Montorio, an architectural jewel of the Renaissance.

Where to find it and how to get there

To reach the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola (located in Via Garibaldi) from the center of Rome, it is best to take bus 115 and get off at the Garibaldi/Iacobucci stop. You can also easily walk there from Trastevere, so visiting this majestic fountain is an ideal way to continue the day after a guided tour of the Trastevere district.

3. Fontana delle Rane

La Fontana delle Rane | ©TripAdvisor
La Fontana delle Rane | ©TripAdvisor

The Fontana delle Rane, or Fountain of the Frogs, is in the center of the beautiful neighborhood of Coppedè, one of the secret corners of the Eternal City that most tourists don't know about. What? You don't know about the best-hidden places Rome has to offer? Then don't think twice and read more about this neighborhood and other unknown places in Rome.

I find this fountain one of the most beautiful in Rome: the grass grows between the small sculptures of frogs and this gives it the appearance of a ruin forgotten by time in a fairy tale, a feeling that is intensified when you look up to the magical buildings of Coppedè.

As the story goes, on a night in 1965 the Beatles took a dip in this fountain, after a drink at a famous nearby bar, the Piper, which was also frequented by other legendary bands such as The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd.

Where to find us and how to get there

There are no metro stations near Coppedè, so to get there by public transport the easiest way is to take streetcar 3 or 19 or bus 60, 66 or 69 to the Buenos Aires stop and walk to the corner of Via Dora and Via Tagliamento.

4. Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

La Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona | ©Gabriella Clare
La Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona | ©Gabriella Clare

This fountain occupies the central place of the famous Piazza Navona, so whatever you do in Rome I am sure it is impossible to miss it. The translation of its name would be the Fountain of the Four Rivers, and the four sculptures in the fountain represent the river gods of the four continents: the Danube (Europe), Rio de la Plata (America), the Nile (Africa), and the Ganges (Asia).

Designed by Bernini, the great architect of Baroque Rome, the fountain is like a compass that points north, south, east, and west, with Rome as the center of the world. The obelisk rising above the sculptures, originally from the Circus of Maxentius, adds an imposing majesty to this ensemble.

Something that I found very nice when I saw the fountain in detail is that each river is represented with a symbolic animal from each continent. The Nile is depicted as a lion under a palm tree, Rio de la Plata as a crocodile and a cactus, the Danube as a galloping horse over a field of flowers, and the Ganges is represented with a dragon and an oar.

Where to find us and how to get there

Somehow or other you will pass through Rome's Piazza Navona, as all the guided tours of the city of Rome make a stop here. The square does not have a metro station per se, but you can get there on buses 40, 60, and 64 from various areas of the city.

5. Tritone Fountain

La Fontana del Tritone | ©Eco Tour Roma
La Fontana del Tritone | ©Eco Tour Roma

The Triton Fountain is in Plaza Barberini, and at this point, you can surely guess who its creator was. Again, Bernini, but this time there is a detail that makes this fountain a unique work: it was entirely designed and sculpted by the artist.

This was the first commission for a public fountain that the artist received, in the year 1643, and he succeeded in creating such a masterpiece that his reputation as a sculptor in Rome was established for many more works to come. Throughout your trip to Rome, you will be able to appreciate in detail Bernini's craft.

The fountain is a symbolic celebration of the papacy of Urban VIII, who would become Bernini's patron. Therefore, the central theme of the work shows the god Triton projecting a jet of water through a conch shell, on top of a huge seashell supported by dolphins, a symbol of virtue. But in addition, some elements can be appreciated such as the engravings of bees, a symbol that appears on the coat of arms of Barberini, the Pope's house.

Where to find it and how to get there

To get to Plaza Barberini, get the subway to the stop of the same name, on the A-line. There are also plenty of buses that take you there: 52, 53, 56, 58, 58, 58, 60, 61, 95, 116, 175, 492, and 590.

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