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Baroque Rome


Trevi Fountain

The fountain was designed to show off the aqueduct of the Acqua Vergine built by Marco Vipsiano Agrippa in 19 b.C. to supply water to the thermal baths which he built close to the Pantheon. The water was named Vergin after the legend telling of a young girl who showed the original spring to a group of thirsty Roman soldiers. The first fountain to take the waters of the Acqua Vergine was built in 1453 for pope Nicholas V, designed by Giovan Battista Alberti in the spot called "of the Trejo"o and through the years it took the name of Trevi. The fountain marked an important turn point for the town which for centuries had to use water taken from the Tiber river. Three centuries later pope Clement XII decided to substitute the old fountain and instigated a competition amongst the best sculptors of his time to come up with something better. His aim was that to supply Rome with as much drinking water as possible and at the same time to give to the city a grandiose work of art. Among the sketches was chosen that of the Roman Nicolo Salvi.

The construction of the fountain lasted 23 years and it forms the east wing of the Poli Palace. It was modeled on the ancient arch of triumph crowned by the coat of arms of Clement XII. The figure of Ocean (Neptune) dominates proceeding, supported by tritons to either side; the one on the left struggling to control his horse represents a stormy sea, his partner on the right, blowing into a conch shell, symbolises the ocean in repose. The statues in niches either side of Neptune are allegories of Health and Abundance, overseen by figures on the pediment who represent the four seasons. The relief on the fountain to the right of Oceanus illustrates the story of the Vergin which shows the spring to the Roman soldiers. On the other side Agrippa shows his project to the emperor. Into the basin, which represents the sea, tourists throw a coin to ensure their return to Rome. Another romantic rite is linked to the small fountain to the left side, called "osmall fountain of the lovers"o. According to the legend the couples who drink at its water will be faithful for ever.


In 27 b.C., Agrippa, son-in-law and architect of Augustus, erected the Pantheon on the site where Romolus according to the legend ascended to Heaven during a ceremony. It was a common temple rectangular in shape, medium size, conceived as a place of worship for various divinities. Through the years the temple suffered fires and other disasters, it was restored several times till the final reconstruction by the emperor-architect Hadrian between 118 and 128 A.D.. The pronaos with its sixteen columns, the enlargement of the rotunda and the dome, the largest existing one built in brickwork up to our time, are for sure by Hadrian. Hadrian himself wishing to commemorate Agrippa replaced word for word on the temple's facade Agrippa's original inscription: "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, Consul for the third time, built"o. In 608 the emperor Foca handed it over to Pope Boniface IV who consecrated it as catholic church: Sancta Maria ad Martyres, masterpiece of the Roman architecture and first example of pagan temple transformed into catholic church. The temple stood originally on a base having a high staircase surrounded by a colonnaded portico on a lower level than the modern one. Originally the dome was externally covered by gilt bronze tiles stolen in 663 by the Emperor of East Constant II and later substituted by a lead covering in 735. The same happened to the bronze covering of the porticoes which was removed by the pope Urban VII and used for the casting of cannons and for the baldachin of St.Peter. Not many things were added to the original architecture: the church decorations, the tombs of great artists (Raphael) and those of the Kings of Italy. Bernini added two ugly bell towers called "asses ears"demolished at the end of the 1800's.

Inside the Pantheon there are also honorary busts which Pius VII had removed and transported to the Capitole, inside the Gallery (collection of busts of illustrious men) Nowadays the lack of coverings reveals the original brickwork structure with weight and thrust which support the ring. The pronaos hides the cupola from sights till the entrance in the space determined by a sphere which can be inscribed in a cylinder, finished and unfinished together. The floor is covered with polychromatic marbles so as the walls which support the huge cupola culminating in the great eye at the summit, 9mt wide, which illuminated the whole interior and served for the smoke of the sacrifices . The axes of the building contemplates a small diversion from the traditional north-south direction: every year on the 21st June at 12,00am, summer equinox, the sun through the eye invests the visitors entering from the main door.

Fountain of the 4 Rivers

Piazza Navona is one of the most spectacular squares of Baroque Rome. This piazza is exceptionally long and owes its shape to the ruins that formed it. Under the buildings that surround Piazza Navona are the remains of the Circus Domitianus, built in the 1st century AD for sports competitions, and the remains of which are still visible beneath the present street level in Piazza di Tor Sanguigna.

In the center of Piazza Navona is Bernini's spectacular "Fountain of the Four Rivers"o, erected in 1651. It features a central rocky structure that supports an obelisk which is surrounded by four giant statues representing the Nile, the Danube, the Ganges, and the Rio della Plata, each symbolizing one of the four quarters of the world. It is surmounted by one of the thirteen obelisks in Rome. The representation of plants and animals, along with the movement and sound of the water, seem to bring life and animation to the fountain. A hollow section at the center of the structure allows the viewer to see through the fountain without blocking the perception of the full extension of the square.

At the northern end of Piazza is the Fountain of Neptune, the basin of which was by Giacomo della Porta and is a 19th century addition. And at the south end is the Fountain of the Moor also by Bernini and features the statue of a Moor fighting a dolphin.

In the center of the piazza facing the Fountain of the Four Rivers is the Church of S. Agnese in Agone, built on the spot where, according to tradition, the virgin Agnese, denuded before her martyrdom, was mantled in her hair, which had grown miraculously to cover her. It is a magnificent Baroque building designed by G. Rainaldi and Borromini and commissioned by Pope Innocent X in 1652.

Piazza Navona is a lively place with plenty of stylish restaurants, outdoor cafes, gelato bars (ice cream), and is often animated by performers, mimes and street artists. There is also a traditional Christmas fair held in the Piazza. At night the stunning piazzas and fountains are dramatically lit, as are the ancient ruins, which look even more haunting and evocative when floodlit.

Fontana della Barcaccia

The Spanish Steps and the Piazza di Spagna are at the heart of the most elegant and exclusive area of Rome and lead to the famous shopper's paradise, Via Condotti, and the surrounding streets with their cafes, restaurants and boutiques, carrying the most eminent brands in international fashion.

The Spanish Steps are an elegantly curved series of three flights of 138 steps bordered by terraces and banked with azaleas during the spring. They connect the square where Spain had its embassy -and still does - thus Piazza di Spagna, and the "French area"o at the top of the hill. Actually, King Louis XV of France financed the project and built the steps in 1723 to ease the way up to the French Church. The division of the steps into three flights refers to the church at the top of the hill, pastel tinted Trinita dei Monti, which was consecrated in 1585 by Pope Sixtus.

At the foot of the steps is the Fontana della Barcaccia which is by Pietro Bernini, father of the famous Gian Lorenzo, and represents a half-submerged boat in commemoration of the efforts made by the people of Rome to survive the flood of 1588.


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Off the Beaten Path

Become a PhotoSleuth in Rome.

Are you an intrepid explorer with a keen eye and adventurous spirit searching for photographic opportunities not generally seen by the public?

Create or re-create your own story told in images.

•Discover parts of Rome less traveled by tourists.
•Hear interesting tales and stories
•Take better photos
•Turn your photos into exciting stories.
•Have fun !

Our expert photographers have in-depth local knowledge and a passion to explore.

So bring your walking shoes and be prepared to discover the mysteries of the city. Bring your camera and learn how to have more fun with your camera.

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Tataruge Fountain

Baroque Rome & its Fountains

Although baroque architecture emerged almost simultaneously in the capital cities of Italy and France, Rome is usually regarded as its place of birth. During the early 17th century palaces, fountains, squares and churches were created in the theatrical style Baroque style left its mark on Rome. Two names repeatedly come up: Bernini and Borromini.

These architects sought to give urban spaces a new sense of unity, coherence, and dynamism. The careful integration of architecture with its surroundings is magnificently demonstrated in Bernini's Four River's Fountain in Piazza Navona among the most spectacular of baroque monuments.

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Piazza Navona Fountain

Private Walking Tours

This tour can be done as half day of full. It can also be integrated into other themes like photography tours, gourmet tours or visits to the Vatican Museum.

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For Small and Large Groups

To request a private guide use the above Inquiry Form

We start this enchanting walk from the Quirinal, the highest of Rome's 7 hills and the one where ancient Romans and later the Popes built their residences.

The square, is dominated by Palazzo Quirinale, which is now the official residence of Italy's President. In the middle of the square the spectacular fountain of Castor and Pollux, with a basin salvaged from the Roman Forum

We reach then the Trevi Fountain, leaning on the Poli Palace. It is the most majestic of the Roman fountains and according to tradition if you throw a coin in it you are sure you will return to Rome again. We will see the Spanish Steps. The square is named after the Palace, seat of the first European Embassy established in the city permanently, andthe famous flight of steps .

Walking around the most elegant shopping streets in Rome, passing the ancient column of Marcus Aurelius whose reliefs tell the episodes of the famous battle set in the movie "Gladiator", we reach Piazza Navona, the most Baroque of the Roman squares, masterpiece by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, with the fountain of the four Rivers and Piazza della Rotonda where is the best preserved monument of antiquity, the Pantheon, dating back to the II cent a.d..

Our last stops will be in piazza Campo de' Fiori, the popular centre of the city and Piazza Farnese with its twin fountains made of two marble basins from Caracalla Baths, in perfect harmony with Palazzo Farnese which houses the biggest private palace of the city, completed in respect of Michelangelo's project.

Our guide will leave you in this fascinating spot not before giving you directions on what to see, where to eat and shop for an exciting discovery of the heart of Rome.

Piazza Navona Fountain

Escorted Group Tour

You'll fall in love with 17th-century Baroque Rome on this small group tour. Choose a morning or afternoon tour - or book them both, with lunch included, for a comprehensive introduction. Even better, you'll travel in a personalized small group with maximum 15 people!

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Escorted Group Tour - Half or Full Day

Duration: 3-8 hrs

Cost: $82.00 pp

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To request a private guide use the above Inquiry Form


Morning Tour (3 hours)

Your morning tour enters the world of Baroque Rome on Isola Tiberina, a little island located on the River Tiber. Shaped like a ship's bow, the island was the original landing place for what is today Rome's city center. You'll enter the Church of San Bartolomeo and discover the legend of the Esculapius ship.

Next, you'll take a walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto with a stop at Piazza Mattei to admire Bernini's magnificent Turtle Fountain before heading to Rome's oldest fruit and vegetable market, Campo de' Fiori.

The morning tour concludes at Piazza Farnese, or you can choose to add the afternoon tour and lunch at a restaurant in the town center (optional).

Afternoon Tour (3 hours)
Your afternoon small group tour begins at 2:30pm at Piazza Navona and the setting for baroque sculptural wonders and fountains by the 17th-century artists Bernini and Borromini.

In the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, you'll see well-known works by Caravaggio before making your way to the Pantheon. Marvel at the frescoed vault at the Church of Sant'Ignazio di Loyola before strolling to Piazza Colonna. Here, look for the column of Marcus Aurelius which some Romans call Antonine, before lingering at the famous Trevi Fountain.

The afternoon tour concludes at Quirinal Hill, residence of the President of the Republic.


Piazza Navona Fountain

In Search of Carravagio

Discover the art and life of Caravaggio, a painter who left an indelible mark on Rome. This fascinating walking tour takes you to see Caravaggio's most characteristic masterpieces, and weaves a fascinating story with a tragic end.

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Escorted Group Tour

Duration: 4hrs

Cost: $65.00 pp

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A promising youth born into wealth and opportunity, Caravaggio was an artistic genius tortured by the demons of his past and present. He spent long periods of time running from the law and the Church, experiencing bouts of sickness and extreme suffering while continuing to create his masterpieces. His artworks were largely forgotten after his death, only to be rediscovered and newly appreciated in recent history.

The experience of studying a painting by Caravaggio can often be overwhelming, as he had a talent for depicting his subjects in the moment of most intense and realistic drama. His exuberant use of light gives his paintings a shocking quality that stunned those who commissioned his works and continues to astonish the public today.

Caravaggio cavorted with prostitutes and shady characters, and used them as subjects for his religious paintings. Many of the original versions of his paintings ended up in private collections after being rejected by the Church. The artist broke new frontiers in the Baroque style, and "Put the 'oscuro' in chiaroscuro" (the dramatic lighting technique used by Baroque artists). He also inspired countless young artists of his time and afterwards, leaving behind a whole school of "Carravagisti" to carry on his legacy.

Entrance fees to the Galleria Pamphilij and Galleria D'Arte Antica at Palazzo Barberiniare are included in the tour price. Tours are conducted in small groups (maximum 25 people) with an English-speaking guide who can personally cater to you so your visit is a special and unforgettable experience.


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