Piazza Navona and memories from my younger days
My first visit to Rome and Piazza Navona was winter 1968-1969 together with my parents and two younger brothers. I had just turned 16 years and more than ready for beautiful Italian men and exciting adventure. We stayed in a small hotel just off the Piazza Navona and I was quickly attracted to the vibrant life of the square. This was at Christmastime and at one end of the square a Christmas crib with figures in full size was set up.
Piazza Navona was then as now, full of street artists and caricaturists. Young, beautiful, longhaired boys spent most of the day in the square and whenever they sold a picture, it was celebrated immediately with a glass of wine in one of the many bars that line the square.
Piazza Navona was a magnet on an adventurous young girl from Norway and I spent most of my time during our three weeks stay in Rome, at this place. Here I quickly became friends with all the street artists and fell madly in love with one of them, several years older than me. My parents were quite bohemian as well, but I did not get the permission to go out with the boys from Piazza Navona, before having presented them politely for my parents. So I had to bring them to the hotel and let them shake my father’s hand and promise that they should behave, as my father said.
New Year’s Eve, I was invited to a private party in Trastevere and I got graciously allowed to go if my father got the address and could fetch me precisely at 01:00. When my father then came to fetch me, I had locked myself in the bathroom and refused to come out. I would not return to Norway, I would escape with my Italian, beautiful street artist and live a life on the road, from place to place and from city to city.
My father had to use his persuasive powers for a long time before I realized that this was quite unrealistic and agreed to join him back to the hotel. With tears and snot running I left Rome and Piazza Navona and the exotic street artist life.
I have never regretted that I let myself be persuaded to join my father back home and my husband and I can have a good laugh of the story when we for the first time together are visiting Rome and Piazza Navona. I am quite excited; will the space still have the vibrant street life?
We are visiting Rome in the middle of summer and it is unbearably hot. We are not motivated to visit Rome’s many tourist attractions and stand in long queues to get in while you perspire freely and legs are swollen and the only thing we want is to sit in the shade with a glass of white wine.
Piazza Navona is crowded and I am happy to see that the street artists are still here. Groups of tourists from all corners of the world, some wearing similar T-shirts and others in similar caps, are following their respective guides equipped with a rod high over their head. The rod can be decorated with everything from an artificial sunflower or colorful plastic strips waving in the wind. We walk in line and it is not easy to arrive at the fountain for a quick cooling.
Piazza Navona has 3 fountains. Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers fountain) is located in the middle of the square and is dated back to 1651. It dominates by the high obelisk that is the hallmark of Piazza Navona. Fontana del Moro is located in the southern end of the square. In the northern end you’ll find the Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune Fountain). Neptune is fighting with a giant squid, surrounded by sea nymphs.
In the buildings around the square you will find many restaurants and bars. Sit down and watch the street life and enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine. Piazza Navona has become a major tourist attraction in Rome and if you fancy something to eat, we recommend that you walk into the streets around the square. You need not go far, a few hundred meters and the prices are lower and the food even better.