While strolling through the Piazza Navona one summer evening with a gelato in hand, I thought of all the reasons why this particular place holds such an attraction for me. The atmosphere after dark is especially inviting.
I made a mental list of all the things I love about Piazza Navona ~
1. The long and lovely string of restaurants and cafes that line the perimeter, providing excellent seating for people-watching while enjoying a caffe or vino with snacks. I love the low hum of human voices accentuated by spurts of laughter.
2. Street performers, musicians and artists showing off their talents with gusto.
3. Romance, romance, romance…need I say more?
4. Three huge exotic fountains with stunning baroque sculptures which light up at night from underwater lights ~
– Bernini’s “Fountain of the Four Rivers” with the ancient Egyptian obelisk in the center.
– The “Fountain of the Four Tritons” with Bernini’s African wrestling a dolphin.
– The “Fountain of Neptune.”
I love the entire effect of the soft lights shining from below these statues which cast a ghostly glow across their features. The trickling water from the fountains is transporting.
5. The knowledge that underneath the piazza was once a former arena built by Emperor Domitian and used for athletic competitions during the first century. I am so amazed by the historical happenings below my feet.
6. Lovely baroque dome and two “towers” of the 12th century Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone located in the center of the piazza.
7. The Palazzo Pamphilj next to the church, which was a family palace of Pope Innocent X. It was he and his family who instigated theatrical events on the piazza during the hot August weekends from 1652 – 1866 by flooding it in preparation for elaborate celebrations such as mock sea battles with real little ships.
By now I’ve walked off my dinner and finished my gelato. Time for a glass of red wine before I head back to my room. The waiters grow a bit flirtatious as evening progresses. I don’t mind. We enjoy a good laugh as I finish my glass. Slowly, I walk once more through the piazza, inhaling all the sights and sounds that I long to remember.