This is somewhat of a recap of some earlier images, but they’ve been a running theme in my Italian work so I thought I’d pull together a collection of my photos of fountains from Rome and Florence.
When I get finished processing all 79 rolls of film from this trip, I’ll have more of these to add, but until then, here’s a selection of public fountains. The Italians certainly love their water features and drinking fountains.
I’m certain I mentioned this before about the ancient fountain at the Colosseum, how you plug the bottom to get water to come out a hole in the top of the pipe so you don’t have to bend over to drink.
Well, here you can see that in action, at a similar fountain in the Castel Sant’Angelo:
And a full view of the fountain:
Here’s a little fountain in the piazza in front of San Lorenzo in Florence:
The Cellini fountain and memorial on the Ponte Vecchio. The interesting thing about it is that the fountain and memorial are 19th century, and their placement on the Ponte Vecchio is a little disingenuous.The bridge today is occupied by goldsmiths and jewelers, true, but in Cellini’s day, the Ponte Vecchio was home to butchers. Other than picking up his Saturday prosciutto, he didn’t spend time on the bridge. The modern day jewelers are just claiming inspiration from him.
A fountain at the Pantheon, under the obelisk in the plaza in front:
Another public drinking fountain, on the Ponte Vecchio, in Florence. This one is actually a drinking fountain, whereas the Cellini monument is purely decorative.
The fountain in the forecourt to the Palazzo Barberini, backlit by the afternoon sun:
A fountain in the Villa Borghese park, directly in front of the Palazzo Borghese:
A closeup detail of the Villa Borghese fountain:
A fountain outside the Vatican, with the water spigots emerging from the heads of Papal keys, crowned by a quartet of Papal tiaras:
A garden-variety public drinking fountain in Trastevere, the neighborhood where I lived in Rome:
A fountain crowned with a pinecone finial in the Piazza Venezia, especially appropriate decoration as it sits beneath a canopy of the famous pines of Rome.
The things you don’t see until you look. I have only ever passed this fountain in the daytime and had no idea it was so beautiful at night.
I took a stroll through the riverfront park in Georgetown this weekend. There are some steps down to the water that are a popular hang-out spot for people of all ages. This young couple was enjoying the view together, and the little boy was fishing a few steps down from them.
In the same park there is a large fountain just made for people (mostly kids, but I do see some young-at-heart adults occasionally venture into it too) to run under and get wet to relieve themselves from the heat of a scorching summer day. It’s almost as refreshing to watch them running in and out of the fountain as it is to do it yourself! (not that I’m going to do it while wearing a Rolleiflex around my neck)
And just for your curiosity, no, I’m not lurking in the shrubbery to take this photo – there are two planters, one at each end of the fountain, and photographing down the length of the fountain makes shooting through them a natural point of view. Plus the branches of the rose bush provide some nice framing for the shot.
Just a few more shots of the fountains at the Watergate apartment complex. Today, it sits in a prestigious location with beautiful river views. It was sited on former industrial land – it sits now where the Washington Gas Light plant used to be, and next door, where the Kennedy Center now sits, was a brewery. The complex was designed in part to harmonize with the Kennedy Center, which was originally envisioned to be curvilinear and organic. Later, due to construction costs, it was redesigned into the sharp-edged rectangle that it is today.
There is debate over the origin of the name Watergate – there are multiple possible referents. Part of the land the complex was built on belonged to the C&O Canal, and overlooks the water gate that marks the eastern terminus of the canal and where its water rejoined the Potomac. A second candidate is the “water gate” from the Potomac to the Tidal Basin that regulates the flow of water into the basin at high tide. The third candidate is the steps down to the Potomac from the Lincoln Memorial beside Memorial Bridge, which was used from the 1930s to the 1960s as an outdoor concert venue, with performers located on a barge in the river. Concerts ended in 1965 with the advent of jet aircraft service into National Airport. I vote for the C&O Canal as the source of the name – the other two features are obscured from view of the complex by the Kennedy Center and the natural curve of the river.
The fountains in the complex were specifically designed to create not only a visually pleasing effect, but to also simulate the sound of a natural waterfall.
I don’t know how successful the auditory engineering was (the fountains are pretty quiet, and they sound like fountains to me), but they certainly do create a visually pleasing space as well as a moderating effect on the temperature around the courtyard.
The Watergate complex was the first mixed-use development in the District. It had shops, restaurants, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, commercial office space, and even a hotel, in addition to luxury condominium residences. As originally planned, it was even supposed to have 19 “villas” (read townhouses), be 16 stories tall, and in all occupy 1.9 million square feet. After wrangling with codes, design commissions, and budgetary constraints, it was reduced in height to today’s 13 stories, the villas were eliminated, and the total square footage was cut back to 1.7 million square feet.
This fountain is visible from both above ground and below as it cascades down a series of steps, sliced through in cross-section. The East and West wings of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC are connected via an underground passageway, and in the middle of this passageway is a large cafe and seating area. The wall of the passageway opposite the cafe is floor-to-ceiling glass, looking directly in to this fountain. The odd orange dots in the lower corners of the photo are reflections of the Christmas lights on miniature trees placed in front of the window. I deliberately used a moderately slow (1/30th of a second) shutter speed combined with a fairly wide aperture (f5.6 I think) to keep some blur in the water and render it abstract. Just off camera right in this photo is where the light sculpture I posted earlier is located.
Here is a view of the I.M. Pei designed East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, from the exit of the John Russell Pope designed West Wing. The strange colors are caused by the coatings on the glass to prevent UV transmission and keep the lobby cool in the summer. I waited for some people to go through the doors to add a touch of energy and human engagement to the image. You can see the above-ground portion of the fountain from this photo.
This is the North entrance lobby of the West Wing of the National Gallery of Art. I’m standing at street level by the security guard’s desk, looking up through the oculus at the chandelier. This is another grand space that is under appreciated because most people never look UP when passing through to take in the building design.
All photos were taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, using Kodak Portra 800.