The fountain dominating the central part of Piazza della Repubblica in Rome is called the Fountain of the Naiads and was originally the fountain of the Acqua Pia, which was connected to the aqueduct called Acqua Marcia.
Fountain of the Naiads Rome
History and description
The Fontana delle Naiadi was commissioned by Pope Pius IX in 1870, to celebrate the restoration of the Acqua Marcia aqueduct. Originally the monument was embellished with 4 chalk lions designed by Alessandro Guerrieri. In 1901 these were replaced by the sculptures of the Naiads. These sweet water nymphs were designed by Mario Rutelli, the great-grandfather of an Italian politician and former mayor of Rome.
The first version of the fountain stood near the present spot of the Dogali Obelisk in the Via delle Terme Diocleziane. In 1888 the entire area around the railway station was reorganized. The fountain ended up in the centre of what used to be the exedra of the Diocletian Baths and is now the Piazza della Repubblica.
Each nymph embellishing the fountain refers to a different source of water. The nymph of the Lakes is holding a swan, the Nymph of the Rivers is lying on top of a river monster and the Nymph of the Underground Water is seated on a mysterious dragon. Technically speaking Naiads are sweet water nymphs, which means that the nymph with the horse is not really a Naiad but a Nereid. The fact that the nymphs were naked resulted in lots of protests.
The group of sculptures in the middle is called the group of the Glaucus and was also made by Rutelli (in 1913). It depicts the fisherman Glaucus fighting a fish and is supposed to symbolize the dominion of mankind over natural forces. Rutelli’s first version was considered so ugly that the Romans baptised it fritto misto (“Mixed fry”). It was quietly moved to its present position in the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. According to the sculptor’s grandson Francesco Rutelli, who was to become mayor of Rome, the face of Glaucus was that of the Roman folk poet Trilussa.
Unfortunately, as a result of the incessant traffic around the Piazza della Repubblica, the fountain needs to be restored every couple of years.