August 19, 2014

The Via Veneto, Rome

La dolce vita. The sweet life.

You're probably familiar with the phrase even if you've never seen the iconic Fellini film of the same name. La Dolce Vita depicts the hedonism of 1950s Rome. It also made the Via Veneto famous.

On my recent visit to Rome, I found the Via Veneto quieter and more sedate than I'd expected. A number of luxury hotels are still here: the Excelsior, Boscolo Palace and Hotel Majestic. Perhaps the crowds were avoiding the intense mid-day sun. But I suspect the street no longer resembles its popular image.

Plaque Dedicated to Federico Fellini on Via Veneto

Via Veneto, Rome

The Boscolo Palace Roma
Via Veneto

Hotel Majestic, the First Hotel on Via Veneto

We walked down the gently curving street to see two fountains by the great baroque sculptor and architect, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The fountains were commissioned by Pope Urban VIII of the Barberini family, who were great patrons of the arts. The Fontana delle Api (Fountain of the Bees) was intended as a drinking fountain for both people and horses and features the three bees from the Barberini family coat of arms.

Fontana delle Api, Bernini
Via Veneto

The Bees in the Fontana delle Api

Via Veneto opens out onto Piazza Barberini and the much grander Fontana del Tritone. Sitting in the midst of traffic, the fountain features the sea god Triton supported by four dolphins and blowing a conch shell. It incorporates the Barberini bees as well as the crossed keys of the papal coat of arms.

Fontana del Tritone, Bernini
Piazza Barberini

The Conch Shell

The Crossed Keys and Barberini Bees

My plans for the day had included a visit to nearby Santa Maria della Vittoria to see another Bernini sculpture, The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, but the heat and jet lag were too much for us. We returned to our air conditioned hotel room for a much needed rest before dinner and an evening tour of Rome.

Next:  The Vatican Museums

Related Posts:
Colossal Rome
Rome's Jewish Ghetto and Pantheon Neighbourhood
A Taste of Rome on Piazza Navona

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