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The Fontana dell'Acqua Paola: interesting facts about the Gianicolo fountain

The Acqua Paola Fountain

The Fontanone del Gianicolo, as it is also known, is one of the capital's most loved symbols. A popular destination for walks among tourists and Romans alike, the Acqua Paola Fountain stands on the Janiculum hill, in the heart of the Eternal City. Let's learn all about this picturesque fountain.

The Acqua Paola Fountain in all its beauty

The Janiculum is a Roman hill located between Trastevere and the Villa Pamphili area, that offers spectacular views. As you descend toward Via Garibaldi from the Janiculum viewpoint, the Acqua Paola Fountain appears almost out of nowhere, rising from a splendid terrace overlooking Rome which is even visible from the Tiber. It is at night however that the sight of the fountain becomes truly magical.

7 interesting facts about the Acqua Paola Fountain in Rome

The fountain's long history is full of interesting anecdotes. Let's learn about a few of them...

  1. Not many know that the Acqua Paola Fountain came into being as the terminal fountain for the Trajan aqueduct.
  2. The Fontanone was commissioned in the early 1600s by the newly elected Pope Paul V Borghese (whence the name) to supply the area on the right bank of the Tiber with water. The fountain was built by the architects Giovanni Fontana and Flaminio Ponzio.
  3. Its façade features six columns, no less than four of which come from the previous incarnation of St. Peter's Basilica, built under Emperor Constantine!
  4. You may have noticed a certain similarity with the Fontana dell'Acqua Felice which is located in Piazza San Bernardo. This is no mere coincidence: when designing the Acqua Paola Fountain, the architects Fontana and Ponzio took their inspiration from the Fontana dell'Acqua Felice, which, in turn, had previously been inspired by the Arc de Triomphe.
  5. Today, the fountain features a single large basin. But it wasn’t always this way. Indeed, it originally consisted of five smaller basins positioned in line with the arches.
  6. Did you notice a dragon and an eagle at the top? These symbols feature in the coat of arms belonging to the family of the commissioning client, Paul V: the Borghese.
  7. The basin is still surrounded by columns and iron bars, but their function is linked to times past, when they served to prevent the horses from stopping to drink.

ACTION! at the Fontanone del Gianicolo

The fountain of Antonello Venditti's well-loved song, "Roma Capoccia", is in fact none other than the Acqua Paola Fountain in Rome, immortalised in the famous line "quanno la luna se specchia dentro ar fontanone" ("when the moon looks at her reflection in the fountain"). But certainly, this is not the only time it has been cited.

In fact, it has been used as an atmospheric setting in various Italian films, including Carlo Verdone's "Tonight at Alice's " and Elio Petri's "His Days Are Numbered".

Want to know more about Rome's other cinematic fountains? Find them all on Waidy WOW!