Piazza di Spagna. Fountain of the Longboat, Rome

Piazza di Spagna. Fountain of the Longboat, Rome

With its Spanish Steps overlooked by the Trinita dei Monte Church, Piazza di Spagna is one of the most visited squares in Rome. While the famous staircase is a favorite spot among tourists to relax and enjoy the views, the area is practically synonymous with high-fashion and luxury, thanks to the many designer shops lying on the surrounding streets.

In this piazza, you will also find one of the most remarkable fountains in Rome, called Fontana della Barcaccia (“Fountain of the Longboat”).

Created in the 1620s, it is the work of Pietro Bernini, the famed sculptor and a go-to man for Pope Urban VIII on many occasions, who also contributed to the creation of the Neptune Fountain in Naples and made statues for numerous churches throughout Italy. Initially collaborating with his son, Gian Lorenzo, the old Bernini was later overshadowed by the young man's talent in marble cutting. In fact, this fountain is often attributed to both Bernini the father and the son.

The design is based upon a real-life event. Back in the 15th-16th centuries the River Tiber regularly flooded the area and a legend has it that one flood was so devastating that Piazza di Spagna remained submerged for several weeks. When the water receded, a boat was found in the square that inspired Bernini in his choice of a subject for the new fountain. The boat is depicted as half sunk in its basin with water spilling over the bows and trickling out of the side of the prow.

Many a people like to sit on the benches, basking in the sun, near the fountain, listening to its gurgle. Because of the low water pressure in the area, the water doesn’t come out in a jet and, luckily, no-one has ever thought of changing that by adding a pump. Famous English poet John Keats, who used to live nearby up until his death in 1821, is said to have heard the sound of water lying in his deathbed, upon which he asked that the words “Here lies one whose name was writ in water” be inscribed on his tombstone.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Rome. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Piazza di Spagna. Fountain of the Longboat on Map

Sight Name: Piazza di Spagna. Fountain of the Longboat
Sight Location: Rome, Italy (See walking tours in Rome)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Rome, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Rome

Create Your Own Walk in Rome

Creating your own self-guided walk in Rome is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Fountains and Squares Walking Tour

Fountains and Squares Walking Tour

In Rome there is a lively piazza round almost every corner, each with its own unique atmosphere and its own story to tell. These public squares have been the center of Roman culture for centuries, and some of the city’s most popular attractions are located within them.

Most piazzas have a fountain in the center and a lot of cafes around. In fact, Rome holds the largest number of fountains in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour

"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour

A movie beloved by generations of people, "Roman Holiday" (1953) was filmed entirely in Rome and starred two of Hollywood's greatest icons: Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The romantic comedy would go on to earn three Oscars, including a best actress trophy for Hepburn, who is entirely sympathetic in a role that could have been off-putting. The main storyline centers on a day of...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.0 Km or 5.6 Miles
Holy Sites Walking Tour

Holy Sites Walking Tour

As the cradle of the Catholic Church, one of the world's largest organizations, Rome has a large number of valuable, sacred places of worship. Crowded with architectural splendors from different periods of time, each of its churches and basilicas represent a significant part of culture and history.

Take this self-guided walking tour to discover Rome's magnificent religious heritage,...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.9 Km or 4.3 Miles
Rome Introduction Walking Tour II

Rome Introduction Walking Tour II

The historic center of Rome is packed with numerous landmarks and genuine works of art, to see all of which may take days if not weeks. This Rome Introduction Walk II highlights some of the key sights emerged during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, comprising some truly magnificent marvels of architecture. Among the featured landmarks here are the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Food Tasting Walking Tour

Food Tasting Walking Tour

Whether it’s a long lunch or a stop-off for an ice cream on an evening stroll, eating in Rome is a very social activity. Culinary traditions run deep here, and it may well be one of Italy’s most pleasurable cities in which to eat. Deli shops, prosciutterias, pizzerias, fornos (bakeries) and caffès are also very popular and offer a great alternative to a restaurant meal.

On this...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Rome Introduction Walking Tour I

Rome Introduction Walking Tour I

Legend has it that Rome was founded in 753 BC by twin brothers Romulus and Remus who were raised by a she-wolf. However, the pair argued about who had the support of the gods, and Romulus ended up killing Remus in a fight on what became Palatine Hill. Thus, Romulus named the city after himself and declared himself as king.

In a slightly less glorious account, Rome actually began as an Iron Age...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles

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