This monumental fountain sits at the top of Rome’s Janiculum Hill, one of the tallest in the city. Dating from 1612, the ornate terminus of the Acqua Paola aqueduct brought water to Vatican City and Trastevere for the first time. Today, you can admire both the fountain and the view, one of the best in Rome.
The ornate Fontana dell'Acqua Paola—known in Rome as Il Fontanone, or “the big fountain”—is located on the hilltop above Trastevere and is a highlight of many walking or Segway tours of this charming historic neighborhood. Trastevere pizza-tasting tours also often stop at the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, as do tours of attractions featured in the film "The Great Beauty."
The fountain was commissioned by Pope Paul V to be the first major fountain on the Trastevere side of the Tiber river. Much of the marble used by architect Giovanni Fontana to build the fountain was pilfered from the Roman Temple of Minerva in the Forum of Nerva, and four of the six granite columns on the fountain's facade are from the original St. Peter’s Basilica. The design inspired that of the Trevi Fountain more than a century later.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The view from Fontana dell'Acqua Paola stretches across the historic center of Rome to the Roman Forum, so be sure to bring your camera.
- Walking and Segway tours of Trastevere offer little shade; comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen are recommended.
- Remember that it is illegal to bathe in Rome's historic fountains.
- The fountain and scenic terrace are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
The Fontana dell'Acqua Paola is located on Via Garibaldi on Janiculum Hill (Gianicolo) above the Trastevere neighborhood. Since it can be confusing to wind your way through the back streets of Trastevere to the fountain, it’s best to visit with a group or private tour.
When to Get There
Rome is the most popular tourist destination in Italy, which means that its sights can be very crowded in high season. It's best to visit the city in the spring and fall to take advantage of milder temperatures and fewer tourists. If visiting the fountain in summer, time your tour for early morning or late afternoon for the best lighting for photos.
Pope Paolo V
Pope Paul V was a member of the Borghese family and you can see the Borghese symbols of the dragon and eagle worked into the marble decorations on the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola.