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Some people associate Rome with fountains.  Respighi did.  If you want to go to the most fountains in the smallest space, you visit Piazza Navona, which boasts three famous ones.  Piazza Navona's distinctive lengthened shape dates back to Imperial Roman times when it was used as a racetrack for horses and chariots and as a sport competition field in general.  From the 17th to the 19th century, the piazza was flooded on weekends to be used for boat races and other aquatic events.  Today it's a popular tourist attraction, movie set, and artist's inspiration.



The most famous of the fountains is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) made in 1651 by Bernini.  It is centered on the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone.  A recycled ancient Egyptian obelisk towers out of the middle of the fountain.  The allegorical figures represent the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube, and the Platte, then regarded as the four largest rivers of the world.



The south end of the piazza.  This is the Fontana del More (Fountain of the Moor).  It was built in 1575 and the Moor was added by another sculptor in 1673.  The building behind it is Pamphilji Palace, now the Brazilian Embassy.  The building to the left is the rear of the Braschi Palace, now the Museum of Rome.




The Four Rivers Fountain again, looking north.




The Four Rivers Fountain looking east.




The obelisk with the campaniles of Sant'Agnese in Agone behind. St. Agnes, by the way, was a 12-year-old girl who was martyred in 306 AD on this site.  She was put to death on the orders of the Emperor Diocletian.  Roman law forbade death sentences for virgins so the authorities saw to it that her virginity was forcibly removed.




The Four Rivers Fountain looking west.




At the north end of the piazza stands the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) built in 1574 with Neptune added in 1878.




Just a reminder that some days you're the statue and some days you're the pigeon.  If the tourists didn't feed the pigeons so well, they'd likely disappear.




Lots of artists all over the piazza rapidly producing masterpieces you can buy and take home with you.




There's also free background music for your vacation in Rome.




Both long sides of the piazza are wall-to-wall restaurants with fairly high price tags.  We had lunch on the shady side of the square and enjoyed it very much.




More artists.




Background music for art shopping or is it to inspire the artists?




The day we were there was one day of a 3-day national holiday to celebrate Italy's existence as a unified Republic.  There was a traveling celebration of dignitaries accompanied by a security force of military, police, and fire department.  We kept having our schedule interrupted by their appearance.




The object under guard was the Madama Palace located down this small side street off the piazza.  



The Madama Palace built on the site of the ruins of Nero's Bath.  In 1505, the Medici family had a palace built here. Today, it is the permanent meeting place of the Italian Senate.