The unusual fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps, known as the Fontana della Barcaccia (loosely translated as ‘the old boat’) dates to 1627 and was the last work of Pietro Bernini, father of the more famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Pietro Bernini’s son, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, went on to become the leading sculptor of his age and also a prominent architect. In addition he painted, wrote plays, and designed metalwork and stage sets.
The shape was chosen because, prior to the river walls being built, the Tiber often flooded and in 1598 there was a particularly bad flooding and the Piazza di Spagna was flooded up to a meter. Once the water withdrew, a boat was left behind in the square.
The English poet John Keats could hear the sound of the fountain’s water flowing soothingly from his deathbed. He said it reminded him of lines from the 17th-century play Philaster, or Love Lies a-Bleeding (1611) and was the source for his epitaph
Here lies one whose name was writ in water.
1. Rendina, Claudio (1999). Enciclopedia di Roma. Rome: Newton & Compton.
Properly enjoying the Roman Forum seemed to take quite an effort for me.
Instead, the Roman Forum seemed to me to be a series of poorly labelled ruins.
Apparently, you can give your mind’s eye a helping hand by forking out for an audioguide or joining the daily 10.30am tour (in English), that departs from the Piazza di Santa Maria Nova entrance.
While you might not think of Rome as a seaside destination, it’s easy to take a day trip to the beach from Rome. If you’re in Rome and want to quickly escape the heat of the city, the best place to go is Ostia Lido.
While it might not be as glamorous as some of the other Italian beaches, it has been cleaned up in the past few years and has some nice private beach areas available for day use.
Ostia beach is known for its dark sand. There’s also a boardwalk and a few public beaches. For less crowded and more comfortable beach areas, you can pay about ten euro for private beach entrance which includes use of a beach chair and towel.
Still an easy day trip from Rome, however.
A complete upgrade of East Sydney’s ‘Little Italy’ on Stanley Street is now in sight, after the City of Sydney Council agreed on a unified concept plan.
Of the three proposals put forward, Council endorsed the second option that envisaged footpaths paved and widened, and trees planted in parking lanes. The road surface along the restaurant and cafe strip will also be paved to “further unify the space”, according to the plans.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the next stage involves the creation of detailed designs and further consultation, with construction due to begin later this year.
Cr Moore said the upgrade would also include burying overhead cables underground, installing special lighting and “reducing clutter”.
Three proposals were presented to the community in February, before they went on public exhibition.
Twenty nine submissions were received during the public exhibition period. Community feedback indicated a preference by local businesses for option one, which left the road paved in asphalt.
However, submissions from residents – including the East Sydney Neighbourhood Association – favoured the pedestrian-friendly option three, that outlined the removal of kerbs from the paved footpath and road area. This was deemed unfeasible by Council because of issues surrounding pedestrian safety and drainage.
Owner of iconic Stanley Street café Bill & Toni’s, Domenic Zucano, told The City News that he had been in favour of option one, as it was the least disruptive to business.
“It would be a disaster to further restrict traffic through the area,” he said. “We still need cars to come through here if we are to survive.”
A lack of parking was a real disincentive to people visiting the area, Mr Zucano said. “If the Council is going to spend $5 million on the upgrade it should do so willingly without trying to recoup that money through parking meters,” he said.
While praising the nearby Macleay Street upgrade in Kings Cross as “exceptional”, he said he was concerned that East Sydney businesses which were “slowly improving” after the negative impact of the Cross City Tunnel opening would struggle again.
“Everywhere else this has been done, like Bondi, Oxford Street and Glebe, businesses have suffered. You’ll see how many will go broke. Even though you’re beautifying the footpath, it’s ruining business,” he said.
While upgrade work will focus on the Stanley Street “hub” between Riley and Crown Streets, broader initiatives are planned throughout the precinct. Other changes will mean improvements to the street closure in Yurong Lane at Yurong Street, and in Riley Street near William Street.
Cr Moore said council will also be investigating lighting in local lanes, installing angle parking in Palmer Street and providing cycling infrastructure.
– Linda Daniele
*This article was first published in City Hub, May 19, 2008 and City News, May 24, 2008.