"The Ultimate Roman Piazza" Piazza Navona Tip by iblatt
Piazza Navona, Rome: 174 reviews and 305 photos
I first read about Piazza Navona in a book about the history of art for children, before I ever visited it. The book told the story of the Baroque sculptor and architect Bernini, who lost the contract to build the church in Piazza Navona to his competitor, and then took his revenge: When he designed the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the four Rivers) in the center of the piazza, one prominent figure appears as if he is afraid the church is going to collapse and fall on his head (see main photo).
Since then I have visited Rome several times, and every time I am drawn to this magnificent Baroque piazza. You walk through the small lanes of old Rome and it suddenly opens up in front of you in all its beauty. In its center there is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. The four river-gods of the world recline majestically, representing the four continents where Papal dominance had spread by the 17th century: Danube (representing Europe), Nile (Africa), Ganges (Asia) and Plate (America). An obelisk with the Pamphili family emblem (dove and olive twig) towers above them.
This is only one detail of the great harmonious whole which makes Piazza Navona what it is. In Roman times there was a stadium in this place, which accounts for its elongated shape.
In the 16th century this was Rome's public market square. The piazza as we see it today was commissioned by Pope Innocent X in the 17th century, glorifying his family, the Pamphili. The Pamphili palace (by Rainaldi), the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone (by Borromini and others), and two smaller fountains at either end of the piazza are other parts of the whole harmonious ensemble.
But besides the buildings, sculptures and fountains, the other source of attraction of Piazza Navona are the people. Romans and, of course, lots of tourists, some of them first-timers in Rome who try to take it all in. There are street artists, local bands playing popular Italian melodies, photographers, tour guides, and lots of people in the cafes and restaurants.
One thing is sure: Piazza Navona is a must in every visit to Rome!
Directions: Near Corso del Rinascimento. The piazza is hidden from the main street, but is well signposted, or just ask any Roman or tourist for directions!
There is a tourist information office on the northern side of the piazza.
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