Piazza Navona was definitely one of my favourite spots in Rome. Surely I won’t be the only person to say it. The perfectly geometrical designed plaza features three beautiful fountains. The main one, at its centre, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or Fountain of the Four Rivers, was sculpted by Bernini, one the stars of Baroque sculpture.
Bernini had a gift to apply movement to any sculpture. Movement, expression, reality. It is something incredible to look at his work. It’s almost as if real people had been turned into rock while in action. It’s Baroque style, one of my favourites in History, precises because that’s when we started to run away from the artistic representation of static scenes to bring life into the marble, the canvas, the wood. Serenity and calmness were left behind. It was the time to challenge the norms of representation.
Baroque started in Rome, and there isn’t a better place to enjoy this style. As you walk on the streets, the fountains, the sculptures, incorporate this new artistic approach. It’s street art Renaissance style. It is also in the Churches. It is almost touching the Rococo, richly ornamented, with its frescos popping out from the ceilings.
The famous Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city, and it attracts thousands and thousands of crowds. It seems to be the Mona Lisa of sculpture and I must warn you it is incredibly crowded at any time of the day. Which means it can also be dangerous – the chances of being pickpockets are high, but I can also warn you to be careful with selfie sticks. one almost got my eye. So, beware.
I don’t blame the crowds. The fountain is indeed beautiful, almost with an aura of magic surrounding it. But, once again, you won’t be able to enjoy it. It’s just too crowded.
Another beautiful example of Baroque style can be found in the Ponte Sant’ Angelo, through which you can cross the river Tevere to reach Sant’ Angelo Castle.
I would have enjoyed Rome without the Baroque. But I wouldn’t have love it. There is something mystic when you walk through the city – it feels as if you were walking through the passage of time. Though different Eras, through different ways of living. In a way, that is exactly what happens. You may start in the very origins of the Roman Empire, of which you now have the ruins to tell you about its greatness. You’ll find by Piazza Venezia the incredible Monument of Fatherland, honouring the soldiers who died in the 1st World War. I remember feeling slightly shocked with the change of subject. Suddenly I had come from the beginning of times until such recent ones. And then, while I kept walking, I found the Pantheon – back to the beginnings of times. But the sculptures I was finding took me back to Renaissance. And while I emerged myself in the Centro Storico, I kept jumping from century to century – I was back to the the middle ages in those cobbled streets, but facing Renaissance Palaces and finding Baroque Churches, while ruins from the Roman Empire still appeared determined to not be forgotten. And yet, the restaurants, the bars, the cafes, the boutique shops reminded me that I was in 2019.
And then, crossed the river, see the Vatican. Take in the sight of St. Peter’s Basilica, a representation of late Renaissance. Hard not to get lost in time.
But my Iphone on my hand helping to navigate the streets, the parked cars, the passing of hurrying vespas, the selfie sticks, the influencers posing for photoshoots. All of that pulled me back to reality and, for once, I just wished I could get myself still in time, as a Bernini sculpture. An expression of melancholy of my face, longing for times I never lived, times I could have never endured and yet, in a strange way, I still miss.
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