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Piazza Navona, Rome
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ADDRESS
Piazza Navona
00186 Rome
Italy
ACTIVITIES
Architecture
Historic Interest
 
 
 
 

Stone Feet, Piazza Navona

 

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

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Piazza Navona, known as Rome's living room, is a great place to people watch. And it is a great place to learn about Baroque Rome. In the 1630s Pope Innocent X, born Giovanni Battista Pamphilj, refashioned the square facing the family palazzo and set off a rivalry between Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini that was to last the remainder of their lifetime. Borromini built the baroque church Sant'Agnese in Agone. Bernini designed the infamous Fountain of Four Rivers - Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio della Plata - as tribute to the four known lands. And while Roman guides love to taunt antagonism, Bernini likely veiled the Nile to denote the river's then unknown source rather than ward off collapse of Borromini's fa├žade. Bernini built his fountain first after all. But before you fix your feet in time, take a moment to learn the meaning behind the name. The Stadium of Domitian, built here in 85 BC, was one of Ancient Rome's most important circuses. For centuries agones, athletic games, fights and horse races, were held in the stadium's arena. In fact the word navona comes from the Greek expression in agone meaning in the site of competitions.
La Befana
La Befana

La Befana

Alfredo De Simone

 
Each January 6, the feast day of Epiphany, the Befana, an old lady with a long nose and black shawl, arrives on her broomstick bearing gifts for Italian children. Like Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus she delivers her gifts when the children are fast asleep. She enters each house through its chimney and silently fills each child's sock. But unlike St. Nick and Santa, the Befana leaves every child a lump of (candy) coal. The size depends on how often they've misbehaved. So what does the Befana have to do with Piazza Navona? The legend of the Befana has its roots in Rome and a Befana Fair with stalls selling candy coal and other things is held in Piazza Navona each year from Christmas to the Epiphany.
 
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A holiday tradition

Submitted on 06 August 2008 by snowedunder from Monza, Italy
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Piazza Navona is my 9-year-old daughter's favorite square in Rome. Visiting the Befana fair is a Christmas tradition. Wandering through the piazza en route to the Pantheon and Goliti for ice cream her preferred stroll. And on each visit she interest is different. This year the Fountain of Four Rivers sparked many a discussion on rivers and explorers. She was studying both at school.
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