Art, Travel

Exploring Rome Through the Influence of Bernini

Rome, the magnificent capital of Italy, stands as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, steeped in a rich history that echoes through its streets. Home to iconic architectural marvels like the Pantheon, the Colosseum, and the Trevi Fountain, the city is a treasure trove of cultural wonders, boasting renowned paintings and sculptures within its museums. Art flourishes at every turn in Rome.

When considering sculptures and fountains, one name reigns supreme: Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Renowned for shaping the very essence of Rome with his boundless creativity and unparalleled skill, Bernini’s masterpieces adorn the city, transforming it into an unparalleled outdoor gallery. As a titan of the 17th-century Baroque movement, his works captivate visitors at every corner, making a walking tour to uncover Bernini’s extraordinary creations an enticing prospect, perhaps enjoyed with a scoop of gelato in hand.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

On Piazza Navona, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is one of Rome’s most famous touristic attraction with its lavish and dramatic design. Following its name, “Fountain of the Four Rivers,” the water flows under the feet of four river gods. Each muscular river god represents the most significant river of the continents: The Nile for Africa, the Ganges for Asia, the Danube for Europe, and the Platte for America.

The majestic fountain features exotic flora and fauna of the four continents and statues representing their unique qualities. For example, a meticulously detailed palm tree or the spilled coins under the Platte to symbolize the new world’s wealth are the perfect additions to tie up the whole theme. The statue represents the Nile with a hidden face, as the courier’s borders of the river were unknown at the time. A Roman obelisk rises through the travertine rock; as if the marble river gods came together to protect it. Bernini created the city’s shining star with his outstanding creativity and left an irreplaceable legacy to Rome.

Fontana del Tritone

Moving on to the Piazza Barberini, we are now exploring the mesmerizing Fontana del Tritone. Bernini, like all other Baroque era artists, is highly influenced by mythology. In his masterpiece, he depicts Triton, known as the lord of the sea, son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. He proudly sits on a vast scallop shell that stands on the tails of four dolphins. Triton drinks his water from a conch vessel on his shell stage, and the cascading crystal clear water meets with the basin. The Triton depiction is a typical example of Baroque extravagance. His muscular body and dramatic portrayal are beyond perfection. Bernini added bee engravings to the statue as a gesture to the Barberini family, who commissioned his work.

Fontana delle Api

We are taking a few steps from the Fontana del Tritone to look and the beautiful Fontana delle Api. The Bees Fountain’s main aim was to regulate the flow of Fontana del Tritone. The fountain part is sculpted as a conch base, while the Barberini family’s bees accompany the shell statue. The inscription on the shell states that Pope Urban VII ordered to build the fountain for public use. Pope Urban VIII himself was a member of the Barberini family and an admirer of Bernini’s work. He once said to Bernini, “You are made for Rome, and Rome is made for you.” Considering that Gian Lorenzo Bernini shaped Rome’s magical silhouette with his marvelous masterpieces, it is safe to say the Pope had a point.

Fontana della Barcaccia

As a tourist in Rome, the Spanish Steps are a must-see location. Right in front of the steps lies the glorious Fontana della Barcaccia. Bernini created this impressive fountain with the help of his father, Pietro. Its name, “the Fountain of the Leaky Boat,” comes from a local legend. The story has it, following a great flood in 1598, there was a damaged boat found sitting on the piazza after the water receded. Bernini took the story; and turned it into a daydream with his exceptional genius and talent. Designed as a half-sunken ship, Fon-tana della Barcaccia is an essential landmark of Rome with overflowing water from its damaged parts. Bernini rightfully found himself in the center of attention after completing one of his first fountains.

Elephant and Obelisk

The journey continues until the front of the incredible Roman Catholic Church Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Right next to the Pantheon, we have the chance to admire the Elephant and Obelisk statue. A grand obelisk that once was a part of Isis’s Temple stands on top of a marble elephant. Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, is serenaded by this exquisite statue on an inscribed pedestal. The inscription can be translated as: “You, whoever you are, who see that the figures of wise Egypt sculpted on the obelisk are being carried by an elephant, the strongest of beasts, understand that it is proof of a strong mind to sustain solid wisdom.” Bernini, as usual, found the subtlest yet effective way to honor the goddess Minerva and leave another enchanting masterpiece to the city.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini has permanently altered Rome’s landscape with his breathtaking masterpieces, leaving an enduring legacy that has transformed the city into an outdoor gallery. His remarkable works welcome visitors at every turn, ensuring that Rome remains a cherished destination for art enthusiasts, both now and for generations to come.

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