As the plaque above it proclaims, the small marble fountain was built by an unknown artist in 1774, at the time of Pope Clement XIV, on the occasion of the restoration of the San Rocco hospital, built by the Confraternity of innkeepers and boatmen who were based in the nearby church of San Rocco all’Augusteo. The pope had in fact donated to the hospital two ounces of water from the Acqua Vergine aqueduct in exchange for the construction of a public fountain.
In one half of a conch shell is the smiling face of a young man, with the characteristic cap of the porters of the nearby Port of Ripetta (where mainly wood and wine from Northern Lazio were unloaded). From his mouth water gushes first into a little semicircular bowl, then into the rectangular basin below and finally into a barrel. The fountain was fed with water from the Acqua Vergine and recalls the 16th century Fountain of the Porter (Facchino) in Via Lata, of which it probably represents a late 18th century version.
It was originally attached to Palazzo Valdambrini, which no longer exists: at the end of the 1930s, when the area was the subject of works to isolate the Mausoleum of Augustus and make room for Piazza Augusto Imperatore, the fountain was dismantled and rebuilt into a large rectangular niche obtained in the arch that flanks the church of San Rocco.
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