While in Rome, you must stop off at the Piazza Navona Square which includes the famous Fountain of Four Rivers, music, gelatto, shopping and restaurants. The double decker bus conveniently stops off at the Piazza. Navona Square is exactly how Italy is portrayed in romantic movies with Italian music playing all around.
We rode the bus there and spent the entire day roaming around the square. The Piazza is a great place to take photos of the ancient buildings and statues and wander around for the day. We ate our way through the square with lunch, gelato and then cannoli.
The square is great for everyone, as we have taken our kids as well as my grandmother. There are many sidewalk cafes and bistros with shaded areas to sit as you walk along the square.
Navona Square, the most beautiful baroque square in Rome, sits on the ancient ring of the Stadium of Domitian – also known as Circus Agonalis – built in 85 AD to host Greek athletic events, agones, with the typical rectangular shape of the arena with its curved northern side.
Surrounded by two imposing travertine arcades, decorated with Ionian and Corinthian capitals, it could host up to 30,000 people, who accessed through the two main entrances located in the middle of its longer sides. The square came back to life in the second half of the 15th century, when it started to host the market. In 1485, it was paved to favour the several festivals and processions that were starting to take place there more and more often.
In the 16th century, the square was enriched with the fountains donated by Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni; then, Pope Innocent X ordered the construction of the majestic Pamphili Palace on the land owned by his family. The Palace was built by Girolamo Rainaldi and embellished by marvellous frescos, a Gallery by Borromini and several art works.
The Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi), unveiled in 1651, is definitely one of the most beautiful and famous monuments in baroque Rome and represents the four major rivers known at the time. The Ganges, Nile, Danube and Plate: four white marble, 5-metre high statues located on travertine juts. The Nile, by G.A.Fancelli, has its head draped because its source was unknown at the time. However, the population thought that it expressed Bernini’s contempt for the nearby church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, designed by his rival Borromini, as the Rio de la Plata’s arm raised to protect its head, by Francesco Baratta, ironically expressed the artist’s fear that the church may collapse.
However, these rumours are totally groundless because Bernini finished the fountain before Borromini started the church. Finally, the Ganges is by Claude Poussin, while the Danube is by Antonio Raggi.
$$ saving tips: There are great restaurants located right outside of the Piazza which are far less expensive than eating inside the square. We were craving authentic, Italian pizza so our tour guide recommended a restaurant called Ristorante Pizzeria Zio Ciro, where all of the pizzas are cooked in their wood burning oven. They make homemade sausages to put on top of the pizza and they have pastas, salads, seafood and more. Everything we ordered was fresh and fabulous along with a cold beer! Take the double decker bus to the Piazza!! It is a fun and inexpensive way to see Rome and take pictures.
We stumbled upon really cute boutiques walking down the side streets. Many of the shops had great sale racks tucked in the back.
5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine