Rome Travel Guide

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

RST Top 40. #19: The Big Fountain

NEW: the RST Top 40 Countdown list is at right, updated with each post.

"Il fontanone" - the "big fountain" - it's a casual and direct Italian nickname for one of Rome's most gorgeous fountains. And, because it's a little out of the way, on the top of the Gianicolo (up, behind Trastevere), this magnificent fountain doesn't get the attention of the Trevi Fountain. Therefore, this fountain, Acqua Paola, makes Rome the Second Time's Top 40.

"Acqua Paola" also means to Romans, "not so good," because despite its beautiful "mostra" or "show" fountain, the water, taken from Lake Bracciano, when brought into Rome by Pope Paul V in 1612, was deemed just not very good.

The aqueduct feeding this fountain, one of Paul's big construction projects for the city, urban planner that he was, uses in part Trajan's aqueduct from Ancient Rome (Aqua Traiana). There are many stories and lots of history behind Acqua Paola, but we'll leave that to Itinerary 2 of Rome the Second Time and to a plethora of online sites (warning - many of them have errors - e.g., this fountain was not moved in the 1890s - that was another smaller fountain, fed by the same aqueduct, now in Piazza Trilussa in Trastevere - I can't imagine moving this one). And, Wikipedia, it's spelled Acqua Paola, with a "c", because the Renaissance fountains use the word "acqua" from Italian, while the ancient ones, like Aqua Traiana, use the Latin aqua - without a "c"...

For those of you visiting Rome even the first time - don't miss the Gianicolo and Acqua Paola!

Acqua Paola is on the Trastevere stairways walk in our new book: Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler.  See below for more information on the book.

Dianne - a PS - our favorite book on Rome's fountains is H.V. Morton's The Fountains of Rome; even tho' out of print, you can find it.

Our new print AND eBook,  Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler features tours of the "garden" suburb of Garbatella; the 20th-century suburb of EUR, designed by the Fascists; the 21st-century music and art center of Flaminio, along with Mussolini's Foro Italico, also the site of the 1960 summer Olympics; and a stairways walk in Trastevere.

This 4-walk book is available in all print and eBook formats The eBook is $1.99 through and all other eBook sellers.  See the various formats at

Modern Rome: 4 Great Walks for the Curious Traveler
 now is also available in print, at, Barnes and Noble, independent bookstores, and other retailers; retail price $5.99.

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