Piazza Navona is the most cheerful and elegant of all the Roman squares, built on the Stadium of Domitian in the 1st century A.C. The square is the meeting point of both Romans and tourists who like to lie in the sun and enjoy the atmosphere in the bars.
In ancient times the square was used for games and sport competitions (even if it never saw the bloodbaths of the Colosseum). Today it is populated by tourists and street artists who, on demand, will make you a portrait or draw a funny caricature of their models in a few minutes.
The Fountain of Four rivers of Bernini
It is impossible not to be fascinated by the protagonist of the fountain, commissioned by Pope Innocent X, that Bernini designed in the Baroque age between 1648 and 1651. The four statues represent the big rivers of the four continents: the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and the Rio de la Plata. The most common interpretation is that they represent the triumph of the Church in the four parts of the world.
There are times of the year when the square is empty, especially at night when it gets darker. Those are the best times to take a walk along the perimeter of the square, listening to the pouring of the water in the wonderful fountain and living the special atmosphere that only Rome can provide.
Legend says that the main character of the fountain raises his hand to defend himself from the St. Agnese Church, the work of Borromini, a contemporary and rival of Bernini.
Christmas in Piazza Navona
At Christmastime the square is populated by a famous multicoloured and lively market where you can buy representations of the nativity scene, decorations and pastries. It is a delight for children and reaches its peak between the 5th and 6th of January, when the Good Witch flies over the city and gives sweets and pastries to children who have behaved well throughout the year. She gives (sweet and delicious) carbon to those who have been less obedient.