Fodor's Expert Review Fontana della Barcaccia
At the foot of the Spanish Steps, this curious, leaky boat fountain in Piazza di Spagna is fed by Rome's only surviving ancient aqueduct, the Acqua Vergine. The sinking ship design is a clever solution to low water pressure and was created by fountain genius Gian Lorenzo Bernini, together with his father Pietro. The project was commissioned by Barberini Pope Urban VIII, and the bees and suns on the boat are symbols of the Barberini family. Looking for more symbolism, some insist that the Berninis intended the fountain to be a reminder that this part of town was often flooded by the Tiber; others claim that it represents the Ship of the Church; and still others think that it marks the presumed site of the emperor Domitian's water stadium in which sea battles were reenacted in the glory days of the Roman Empire.