Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Piazza Navona, Rome

Piazza Navona is a long oval that once was the race track of Emperor Domitian's Stadium. When we visited, the Christmas Market was still in full swing, making it difficult to get a feel for the ancient use of the area.

The side of the market

The center of the market

The cold rain drove us to gelato (Italian ice cream), which L devoured too quickly!

L, wet and chocolatey

After a treat, we admired two of the fountains in the plaza. The most famous one is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, built in 1651 for Pope Innocent X by Bernini. The Egyptian obelisk is surrounded by four figures representing four great rivers, each symbolic of a continent where Christianity had spread--the Ganges (for Asia), the Danube (for Europe), the Nile (for Africa), and the River Plate (for the Americas). The pope's coat of arms also features prominently.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

Fountain detail

Get this bird off my arm (also the papal seal)

We came back a second day and got some more pictures!

Nile side of the fountain?

More papal seal!

Just across from the fountain is Sant'Agnese in Agone, another commission by Innocent X. Father and son architects Girolamo and Carlo Rainaldi were replaced by Borromini, one of Bernini's chief rivals, in 1653. The site is claimed to be a brothel where St. Agnes was stripped naked in an attempt to make her renounce her faith. Her hair miraculously grew long to protect her modesty. She was also martyred on this site.

Facade of Sant'Agnese in Agone

On the north end of the piazza is the second fountain we looked at. It represents Neptune, the Roman sea god, in action.

Neptune's fountain

The far side of Neptune

On our second visit, we saw the south-most fountain, which also had some whimsical styling.

J, L, and the fountain

Fountain detail

On the second visit, the children spotted the carousel and asked to ride. After dragging them into a dozen churches and other boring historical sites, we were glad to give them something they liked.


J rides!

L was a little terrified of the other kid in the sled

The carousel also had some fancy plastic tickets that I assume they recycle. What a great idea!

Tickets to ride!

We took a final picture from the end of the piazza.

Farewell Piazza Navona!

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