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Can you count the Squares and Fountains? A daily trip in Rome

Posted on May 25, 2017 in Rome
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Rome is famous for the large number of squares (piazza) and fountains, which are found throughout the city. Propose a game for your kids – make a contest, with an attractive prize – Can you count the Squares and Fountains? The winner will be the person that manages to count the most squares/ fountains/ and sculpted animals in the city.  It will be fun, it will challenge the children’s attention, and will give you the possibility to visit some of the places that Rome is so well-known for.

Suggested route: Piazza di Spagna – Spanish Steps – Fontana del Tritone – Piazza delle Quattro Fontane – Piazza Navona – Pantheon – Fontana di Trevi

Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps

Piazza di Spagna

Piazza di Spagna (the Spanish Steps)

What to expect

 This is one of the most famous squares and meeting places in Rome.

Your kids should see it because…

With its 135 steps, the Spanish Steps (Scalinata Spagna) is one of the longest and widest staircases in Europe and it offers a spectacular view with hundreds and thousands of flowers, which are planted on either side of the Steps.

Basic background you can tell the kids

Piazza di Spagna takes its name from the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See situated nearby.

It was designed to connect the Spanish Embassy to the Church Trinità dei Monti, by the unknown architect Francisco de Sanctis, and inaugurated in 1725 by Pope Benedict XIII.

In the center of the square, the attention is captured by the Fountain of the Old Boat (Fontana della Barcaccia), created at the beginning of the Baroque Age by the Bernini family and representing a sinking boat. The square also holds the Column of the Immaculate Conception (Colonna dell’ Immacolata), raised in 1856, to commemorate this newly introduced dogma.

On the right side of the Steps, you can visit a museum dedicated to the English Romantic poets John Keats and Percy Shelley.

Another fountain you will see nearby is Fontana del Babuino, built around 1850 and representing Silenus, who was Dionysus’ companion, a half man –  half goat.

Some facts
  • As many other attractions in Rome, it seems that the Fontana della Barcaccia is based on a local legend also; it says that during a flood of the Tiber River in 1598, a fishing boat was carried away by the angry waters to this particular place.
  • Bernini family signs are represented on the fountain – see the two suns inside, as well as the bees’ representations.
  • Piazza di Spagna has always been a gathering place for artists (writers, musicians, painters) and French Academy was founded nearby in the 7th century.
Tips & Tricks
  • Let your kids play around in the nice square.
  • As it is crowded basically all the time, take care of pickpockets.

 

Piazza delle Quattro Fontane

How to get there

In the quest of more fountains, take the subway for one more station, on the same A line, until Barberini stop. Here you can stop for a few minutes to admire another Bernini fountain, Fontana del Tritone, executed in travertine. Then get along Via delle Quattro Fontane.

Basic background you can tell the kids

Following a decision of Pope Sixtus V to improve the city’s water supply, private citizens started building fountains, in exchange of the right to use the water for themselves. It is also the case of the four fountains in the corners of Piazza delle Quattro Fontane. Ancient documents that attest these fountains lack almost totally, thus, making it difficult to link them to their creator.

Some facts
  • Seems that the four fountains represent Diana (the Goddess of Chastity), Juno (the Goddess of Strength), the Tiber River (symbol of Rome) and the Arno River (symbol of Florence).
Tips & tricks
  • Ask your kids what they think the fountains represent. Are there any particular elements that they have seen elsewhere, too?

 

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

What to expect

Piazza Navona is, undoubtedly, one of the most impressive squares in Rome.

Your kids should see it because…

The majestic Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers and the bohemian air that covers the place.

Basic background you can tell the kids

Piazza Navona was built on the former Stadium of Domitian, used for festivals and sports events. The oval shape and dimensions are a proof of its former purpose.

In the 15th century, the place was paved and became a public square.

Three fountains are the main attraction of Piazza Navona: Neptune Fountain (Fontana del Nettuno), Moor Fountain (Fontana del Moro) and, the Baroque masterpiece – Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi.

Some facts
  • The name of the place is probably derived from Circus Agonalis (competition arena) – in AgoneNavoneNavona.
  • This Fountain of the Four Rivers, constructed by Bernini between the years of 1647-1651, symbolizes four major rivers (Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio della Plata), and further the four known continents they represent (Africa, Asia, Europe and America).
  • The square is also famous for the great number of open places to eat and have a drink.
 Tips & Tricks
  • Don’t miss the chance to stop at the Tre Scalini. The place, opened in 1946, is famous for its tartufo, which is still prepared today and follows the original recipe.

The Pantheon

pantheon rome

Pantheon, Rome

How to get there

From Piazza Navona take a walk to the Pantheon.

What to expect

This is a spectacular temple, which was the creation of antiquity, with perfect proportions.

Your kids should see it because…

The Pantheon has been – until recently – the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome – making it an architectonical masterpiece. Also, the massive columns that support its portico and the round opening in its dome, letting the sun rays inside, are a must-see.

Basic background you can tell the kids

In the Piazza della Rotonda, marked by a fountain with an Egyptian obelisk, lies the most well preserved building from Ancient Rome – the Pantheon. Originally created as a circular temple, dedicated to all of the Roman gods, the Pantheon impresses mostly by the perfect proportions.

Since 609, the place has been used as a Roman Catholic Church dedicated to Saint Mary and the Martyrs.

The only source of light is the large hole in the dome, called the oculus, which is always opened; this put the place open to all natural phenomena for over 2,000 years, which made it an even greater wonder that it has remained in such good condition.

The Pantheon has been a source of inspiration for multiple public buildings, where its style echoes.

Some facts
  • The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle in Pantheon are equal, 43.3 meters.
  • Michelangelo himself, when seeing the Pantheon for the first time, said that it looks more like the work of angels, not humans, referring to its spectacular design, proportions, elegance, and harmony.
  • The 16 massive Corinthian columns supporting the portico weigh 60 tons each and they were brought all the way from Egypt.
Tips & Tricks
  • The Pantheon is an easy-to-reach attraction, as it lacks the endless lines in front of ticket offices (it is, after all, a free admission).
  • The fountain in Piazza della Rotonda has cool fresh water and you can refill your bottle for the next steps of your journey today.
  • Read the “Kids’ Travel Guide – Rome” for more interesting facts about the Pantheon and its surroundings.

 

Fontana di Trevi

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

How to get there

Take a nice walk following the picturesque narrow streets to Fontana di Trevi. You will enjoy it!

What to expect

This is one of the greatest and famous fountains in the world, with great sculptures and waterfalls.

Your kids should see it because…

Fontana di Trevi is a fantastical marble creation that you should not miss. Also, the kids need to take part in the ritual coin toss.

Basic background you can tell the kids

Fontana di Trevi is a popular tourist attraction and probably the most famous fountain world-wide. The fountain is an impressive end of Aqua Virgo, one of the aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome; legend says that a young girl led the soldiers sent by Agrippa to a pure source of water, a few kilometers away from the city and the aqueduct was named in her honor.

Initially a project commissioned for Bernini by Pope Urban VIII, it was stopped at the Pope’s death; but influences of this great artist are visible in the sculptures, as its creator Nicola Salvi based its work on Bernini’s design.

The central piece is a sculpture of Neptune, who was worshiped as the god of the sea, who rides a shell-shaped chariot that is pulled by two sea horses: one is calm and obedient, the other one restive (this symbolizes the fluctuating moods of the sea); the two side statues represent Abundance and Salubrity.

 Some facts
  • Every day around eighty million liters of water flow through Fontana di Trevi. Water is then reused to supply several other Roman fountains.
  • Legend says that if you throw a coin in Trevi Fountain, you will certainly come back to Rome. According to the City of Rome, coins in value of €700,000 get tossed in each year.
 Tips & Tricks
  • If possible, wait until it gets dark, when lighted, the fountain is even more beautiful.
  • Take your children near the fountain to take some pictures and to follow the legend – throw a coin into the water and make the wish to revisit the Eternal City.

 

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