The location of our Rome accommodation, Al Centro di Roma, couldn’t have been better! We were smack bang in the middle of the historic centre of this incredible city, with beautiful Sant Andrea della Valle church right across the road, Campo di Fiori, the Trevi fountain and the Pantheon all just a few blocks away, and the gorgeous Piazza Navona literally around the corner!
For the first couple of days of our trip, we were awake super early, I mean 4am! So, after we read our guide book and sent some emails home, we got dressed and ventured out to see the city at dawn. Now I know there are a few of you who will think 4am is way too early to be out of bed, but let me tell you, in a tourist magnet like Rome, the early morning is the ideal time to see some of the iconic sights without the crowds. Besides, breakfast wasn’t served until 8am, and with just four days in Rome, we didn’t want to waste a minute.
So with map in hand, around 6am, we headed out of our B&B and along the block, to find that the famous Piazza Navona was closer than we thought. This piazza (or square) is one of Rome’s most beautiful places, in my opinion, and regularly appears among Top 10 Things to do in Rome lists. It is large and long, and during the day and early evening, it’s full of street artists selling their work and vendors selling souvenirs, as well as visitors, lots of visitors.
Piazza Navona is built on the site of the former Stadium of Domitian, which was built by Emporer Domitian in 86AD, and was used mostly for festivals, theatrical and sporting events, as well as a market, until nearby Campo di Fiori became the official marketplace in 1869. During the 15th century, the stadium was paved over, and Piazza Navona was created. This piazza is full of historic and architecturally significant structures.
There are three stunning fountains in the square – the central Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi – or Fountain of the Four Rivers, the Fonta del Nettuno – or Fountain of Neptune, at the northern end, and the Fontana del Moro – or Fountain of the Moors, and the southern end of the square. Another eye-catching feature is the beautiful baroque church in the centre of the piazza – Sant Agnese in Agnone.
The Fountain of the Four Rivers was first commissioned to the sculptor Borromini, but was eventually handed over to his rival, Bernini. On each of the four sides of the fountain, a male figure represents the following rivers – the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and Rio de la Plata. The obelisk which rises above this fountain was relocated from the Circus of Maxentius, near the famous Appian Way.
Fontana del Nettuno features a statue of Neptune surrounded by sea nymphs. It was originally built in 1576 by Giacoo della Porta, with several 19th century additions. While it was designed by Bernini, della Porta also built the Fontana del Moro, where a central statue of a Moorish man holds a dolphin, with several additions inhe 17th and 19th centuries.
The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agnone is another highlight of Piazza Navona. Commission in 1652 by Pip Innocenti X, the church was built on the site where St Agnes is alleged to have been stripped naked but was miraculously saved from disgrace by the extraordinary growth of hair!
We took our time to wander around the piazza, able to take photos without people in them (a rarity in Rome!). Later in the day, during our segway tour – which was an absolute hoot and I HIGHLY recommend doing one, we revisited the piazza, and there were a lot more people in the background of our photos.
The Besties Do Italy series details how Seize The Day Project’s Lyndall and her long time best friend Jane ventured to Italy to celebrate a significant birthday – sans husbands and children. Shhh, don’t tell anyone they’ve gone! Read more posts in this fascinating series here:
Some Enchanted Evening in Venice – Eternal Rome: I only just met you, but I think I love you – A trip to Villa San Michele, Anacapri – Cooking up an Italian storm in Roma – Finding the best gelato in Italy
Have you visited Rome? Did you go to Piazza Navona? Please leave your comments in the box below.
Linking up with A Brit & A Southerner for #WeekendWanderlust
And with Albom Adventures for #WkendTravelinspiration
Also linking up with Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit for the #Lovin’LifeLinky