The Turtle Fountain
The Turtle Fountain (Fontana delle Tartarughe) is placed in the Piazza Mattei in the centre of Rome. It was designed by the architect Giacomo delola Porta and the sculptor Taddeo Landini.
The fountain was created between 1580 and 1588. The first construction plan anticipated that the fountain would be placed next to the Marcellius' Theatre. However, the nobleman Muzzio Mattei pressed the plan of putting it in a small square in front of his own house as he committed to pay higher taxes to the city. That is why the Turtle Fountain is one of few projects created for a private investor, not a pope.
The fountain is a great example of the Italian renaissance. It is adorned with figures of Epheboi, handsome boys surrounded by dolphins. According to some specialists, they were modelled on the sculptures from The Neptun's Fountain in Florence. Its name comes from small sculptures of turtles made of bronze. Most probably, they were created by Bernini and were added in 1658 during a renovation of the fountain. The fountain was build to supply drinkable water. It was a part of a major project, created by Giacomo della Porta, whose aim was to build a network of 18 fountains connecting the city with drinkable water from an ancient aqueduct, Acqua Vergine.
There is a legend saying that Muzio Mattei lost all of his fortune while playing cards with his father-in-law. To regain respect from the family of his fiancée and his fortune, the two men made a bet once more that the nobleman would build a fountain in one night. He managed to win that bet getting back his fortune as well as the fiancée. To commemorate this event he commissioned the cutting of a window in a wall, so that he might admire the masterpiece of Italian sculptors.
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Giacomo della Porta