The Fontana della Navicella (“Fountain of the Small Boat”) can be found on the Via della Navicella in front of the church of Santa Maria in Domnica in the rione Celio in Rome. It was built in 1519 and probably replaced an earlier, damaged, version.
Fontana della Navicella Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Via della Navicella. Opening hours and admission: The Fontana della Navicella can be seen from outside.
The Fontana della Navicella is thought to have been built in the years 1518-19, based on a project by Sansovino (who was also responsible for restoration of the church).
In 1514 Sansovino had also restored the Santa Maria in Domnica Church.
It is not the first fountain in this spot. Before the present version there used to be a marble boat representing a Roman galley, probably a votive offering to the goddess Isis.
Isis was the protectress of sailors. Probably the ship was found near the Colosseum. According to one theory it was connected to Egyptian sailors passing through Rome and sleeping in the nearby Castro Peregrinorum, a barracks for soldiers not stationed in Rome. Another possibility is that it was placed here by the sailors who took care of the velarium, the great veils protecting the Colosseum from the sun.
From the central part of the boat’s bridge, a jet of water emerges and lands in the basin below. The coat of arms on the foundation is that of Pope Leo X Medici.
The ship is raised on a marble stone and inserted in a quadrangular flowerbed. It is protected by small columns connected by wrought iron chains.
Another fountain in Rome using the boat motif is the Fontana della Barcaccia in the Piazza di Spagna.