Monday, April 5, 2010
Roman Dew Drop Fountain
On of the most unique and interesting water features I’ve ever seen is this unusual moss encrusted fountain at the top of the Palatine Hill in Rome. What struck me most aside from the wild growth, was that every little leaf and wisp of moss was sparkling with dew-like drops of water trickling their way down to the basin like a soft drizzle. The effect is subtle yet mesmerizing as you watch the patterns of scintillating droplets shimmer in the sun. Il Fontanone; as the fountain is known, was built for the Farnese family in the 17th century by Girolamo Rainaldi. In ancient times the Palatine, from which the word palace is derived, was the site of Roman Imperial palaces. The area was in ruins by the Renaissance when Cardinal Alessandro Farnese purchased the site for his summer residence the Orti Farnesiani. The secret of the fountain's unusual effect is due to low water pressure on the hilltop making a spurting fountain an impossibility, Il Fontanone instead “sweats” as the water slowly rises to the surface. The fountain and the pair of aviary structures that crown it are almost all that remains of the Orti Farnesiani today.