Piazza Navona

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by melissa_bel on June 17, 2004

Perhaps the most beautiful piazza in the city, Piazza Navona used to be a Roman circus (that’s why its shape is elliptical). This elegant area, surrounded by beautiful houses, the Church of Sant’Agnese and adorned by three of Bernini’s fountains, is a Roman trademark. And of course, let us not forget the mandatory obelisk! I recommend you take a moment to sit down and enjoy a coffee while looking at people passing by -- very relaxing and enjoyable.

The main fountain is La Fontana dei Quatri Fiumi (1651) or Fountains of the Four Rivers -- and what are those? They are the Danube, the Nile, the Ganges and the Rio della Plata (in that order). Now, the face of the allegoric figure of the Nile is veiled and it’s been subject to different interpretations. One of them is that, at the time, no one knew where the source of the Nile was. The other has to do Bernini’s career. Borromini, who designed the Church of Sant'Agnese was his rival and the Nile and Rio della Plata figures were designed to shield their eyes from the church, as a sign of disdain. If you look at the statue of Sant'Agnese on top of church, you'll see her gaze goes way over the piazza, another sign of disdain. Though, this first part of the story doesn't seem likely because the fountain was finished before the construction of Sant'Agnese began. .... I don't know.

You will find a lot of street vendors will sell their fares (fake soccer jersey, fake bags). If you really, really have to have one, don’t forget to barter or you’ll be ripped off.

Piazza Navona

Rome, Italy, 00186


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