The fountain of love – la fontanella degli innamorati – is the basis of a beautiful legend and destination for many couples in love. Find out what the legend tells and where you will find the lovers’ fountain.
The abundance of water in Rome
The water of Rome is known for its abundance, for its quality, and for being available to everyone, free of charge. The city of Rome is world famous for its ruins, for its monuments, for the quantity of works of art and museums, but also for the extension of its aqueducts, for the great presence of monumental fountains and fontanelle. Speaking of water in Rome and drinking fountains, we automatically think of the so-called “nasoni”, a type of cylindrical cast iron fountain with a spout from which water continuously flows from which you can drink directly or fill your bottles from at no cost, free. The continuous release of water, without interruption, makes it very fresh and pleasant to drink. The “big noses” are present everywhere in the districts and neighborhoods of the city, both in the center and in the suburbs.
The water of Rome and its fountains: not just nasoni
Various types of fountains and drinking fountains
The monumental fountains are those most dear to the Romans and best known by tourists. But in addition to the “nasoni” and monumental fountains (authentic masterpieces of art), there are also ornamental fountains, for public use, which have the practical function of making the city of Rome more beautiful.
There are other fountains that have no particular decorations and their visibility may appear blurred from close up compared to the largest and most famous one, though interesting and particular stories of the Roman tradition are often linked to this type of fountains.
The Trevi Fountain
This is the case of the famous Trevi Fountain, built in the mid-eighteenth century by Nicola Salvi and Giuseppe Pannini, which attracts millions of tourists and is a backdrop used in many films in the cinema. It suddenly appears, in the midst of many small streets, leaning against the facade of Palazzo Poli and hits the ears of the inhabitants and tourists with the sound of its waters that come out of the many sculpted cliffs. But it also strikes the eye for the harmony of the proportions between the sculptures (horses, tritons and allegorical figures dominated by the Ocean, driving a chariot inside a triumphal arch) and the building behind.
The neighboring fountain of love
The gaze is mostly captured by the size and the charm of the Trevi Fountain. The presence of a fountain for public use on the right side of the monumental complex often escapes the attention of tourists. It is called “Fontanella degli Innamorati” and consists of a simple rectangular travertine tray placed on a fake rock, positioned inside a niche carved into the sculptural block. The water flows out from two spouts inserted laterally into the marble walls, which makes the two rays of water meet.
It is not the decorations that make this fountain as important as much as a story / legend and a ritual linked to it. According to tradition, the couples of lovers who drink water from this fountain will remain forever united and faithful.
The origin of the legend of the fountain of love
The origin of this romantic legend, as I wrote in the book ” Fontanelle Romane ” published by “MMC Edizioni” comes from the past as “… It was addressed to engaged couples in which the man would have had to leave for a long time, such as, for example, on the occasion of military service. The rite provided that the couple met in front of the fountain the night before departure and that the girl offered a drink of water to her boyfriend using a glass never used before. Immediately after use, the glass had to be broken and only then the girl could feel confident that the young man would not forget it. The logic was inexorable: by drinking the Trevi water one could not forget Rome and therefore not even the distant loved one. And always according to tradition it seems that the fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi because, during the construction work, a young couple always went to quench their thirst in this place … ” .
A similar story is most likely connected to the legend of the coin toss in the Trevi Fountain which would force the tourist to return to the eternal city in the future. This fountain was built as “Mostra dell’Acqua Vergine” where the word “exhibition” means an architecturally impressive place, a sort of showcase, in which the passage or the ending point of a certain aqueduct is shown. Why is it called “Acqua Vergine”? Well, that’s another story …
Text: Maria Cristina Martini