Fontana delle Cariatidi in Piazza dei Quiriti

Fontana delle Cariatidi © Deborah Swain
Rome in August takes on a strange identity – it looks like Rome, but doesn't quite feel like Rome - with almost half of the population having left on their annual summer holiday in the mass exodus that marks the two weeks either side of the Public Holiday of Ferragosto on 15th August (traditionally the date of the Roman Catholic Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but going back as far as the pagan days of the Roman Empire). Tourists and residents are left behind in what is a truly unique situation for Rome – an almost car free city centre! What better time, therefore, than to stroll around and discover some of the Eternal City's hidden treasures which are sometimes ignored in a city so rich in world famous landmarks.

In our Discover Rome section I thought I'd take a closer look at another one of my favourite fountains – the Fontana delle Cariatidi situated just off Via Cola di Rienzo in the Prati district of Rome. Stretching from the river Tiber to Piazza dei Risorgimenti the elegant tree lined shopping street of Via Cola di Rienzo is well worth a visit in itself and being so very close to St. Peter's Basilica, is an easy addition to any itinerary. The Fontana delle Cariatidi, on the other hand, is overlooked by the Church of San Gioacchino and found in Piazza dei Quiriti. Constructed between 1927-1928, it was designed by the sculptor Attilio Selva (1898 – 1970) and inspired by 17th century designs. At the time of its unveiling however, the nudity of the four female caryatids supporting the large basin topped by a pine cone, caused quite a scandal!

Happy holidays and Buon Ferragosto!