Walking in the Vatican area, a curious fountain stands out just beyond the open archways in the Passetto di Borgo: like the contemporary Fountain of the Tiaras, it is dedicated to the Rione Borgo and was designed in the 1920s by the architect and sculptor Pietro Lombardi, winner of a competition announced by the Municipality of Rome.
The city’s coat of arms is placed at the center of a small rounded travertine arch. Below, on a travertine nut, there is a pyramid of stone balls; in the middle, a plump mask pours water into a trough-tank below. Two spouts in the intrados of the arch feed two side trays. The composition is naturally inspired by the cannonballs of the nearby Castel Sant’Angelo, which was for centuries the city’s stronghold and military garrison. When the fountain was built, the motif of the stone balls even appeared on the slabs on the ground, which limited the water collection tank.
Simple and essential in its originality, the fountain is part of the group of artistic fountains commissioned to Lombardi by the Antiquities and Fine Arts Office of the Governorate of Rome, intended to supply and embellish the historic center of the city. They include the Fontana dei Libri (Fountain of Books) in Rione Sant'Eustachio; the Fontana delle Anfore (Fountain of the Amphorae) in RioneTestaccio, the Fontana degli Artisti (Fountain of the Artists) in Rione Campo Marzio, the Fontana delle Tiare (Fountain of the Tiaras) in Borgo, the Fontana della Pigna (Fountain of the Pine Cone) in Rione Pigna, the Fontana dei Monti (Fountain of the Mountains) in Rione Monti, the Fontana della Botte (Fountain of the Barrel) in Trastevere and the Fontana del Timone (Fountain of the Helm) in Rione Ripa.
To find out about all accessibility services, visit the Rome accessible section.