Piazza Navona - Fountain of the Moro

The Fountain of the Moro is among the oldest Renaissance fountains of Rome, and is one of three monumental fountains of Piazza Navona. Immediately after the restoration of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct, completed in 1570, several fountains were designed. Among the first commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII to Giacomo della Porta in 1574, the are the two located at each end of Piazza Navona. The project involved a mixed-line-shaped marble basin resting on two steps. To decorate it were used the four newts that had been made two years before, but not used for the fountain of Piazza del Popolo, with groups representing a mask between two dolphins. The large shell with three dolphins, with which Bernini adorned the fountain, did not please the Pope, who the following year transferred the entire group in a villa on the Gianicolo. A subsequent attempt finally met the favor of Innocent X, a male figure holding a dolphin tail for throwing water from the mouth, sculpted by Giovanni Antonio Mari. The features of the figure vaguely recall the characteristics of a black man, a detail which was enough to give the fountain that still retains the name. According to a traditional version, the face of the 'Moro' was inspired by the statue of Pasquino, and this circumstance could justify that kind of defiance to the Pope, as the talking statues, and in particular Pasquino, whose neck unknown hands hung satirical verses and fierce criticism of the ruling class, at the time were a major concern for the nobility and the clergy in general. In 1874, simultaneously with the final realization of the fountain north of Piazza Navona, all groups of sculptures of the Fontana del Moro were removed and transferred and replaced by copies. Only recently has proceeded to their restoration, but the originals were used for other fountains, newts, in particular, are in the fountain pool of Villa Borghese.

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