Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Fountains of Beauty and Overflowing Oddity – Erich

Has anyone heard that what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas? Well, in some matters, we need to hope that what happens in Rome stays in Rome. Because some unusual things do happen here, and we most likely don't want to replicate them everywhere.

However, there are other things that are gorgeous and wouldn't it be nice if we could all have such nice things in our towns?

Let's start with something graceful, beautiful, and amazing: The Trevi Fountain or in Italian Fontana di Trevi.
Full frontal view
The name refers to where it was built, at the junction of three roads. Tre vie. Three roads. Clever, yes? And just a bit of trivia for you, the word “trivia” also derives from Latin for three roads.

In ancient Roman times, this was one of the end points of the aqueducts that supplied Rome with its water. But the sculpture that is there now is a bit more recent than that. Actually, a lot more recent.

The architect is Nicola Salvi (who came in second place in the contest to design the fountain. But the guy who won, Alessandro Galilei was from Florence, and the people of Rome were so upset that a Florentine won that Pope Clement XII gave the job to the guy from Rome, Salvi.) They started building it in 1732, but it wasn't finished until 1762 (and Salvi was already dead by then.)

The central figure is Oceanus (he's the god of water).
Behold my mighty waters!
He is flanked by Abundance on his left and Salubrity on his right.

But even more impressive are his steeds. Oceanus is on a shell chariot being pulled by two hippocampi. A hippocampus is a mythical creature that is the front half of a horse and the back half of a big fish. These hippocampi are even more mythic, because they have wings too!

The hippocampi are being controlled or at least being attempted to be controlled by two tritons. Tritons are like mermen. Mermen are male forms of mermaids. Mermaids are, well, I hope you know what mermaids are.

It's a beautiful Baroque work of art. We enjoyed it, and we weren't the only ones. Check out the crowd admiring the fountain.
Who watches the watchers who watch the waters?
We watched several people throwing coins into the water. Most people have their back to the water and throw the coin over their shoulder. I'm not sure why. But we read that an average of 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day. The city collects the money and uses the proceeds to help feed the hungry in Rome. It is also patrolled by police, both to control crowds and to keep people from stealing coins back out of the fountain.

Want some more trivia? Let's say you are Nicola Salvi, you have big plans, you are starting to build and some barber won't move a sign. Yes, when Salvi was constructing the fountain, there was a barbershop at one side. And the barber would not remove his (in Salvi's opinion, unsightly) sign. So what do you do?

Well, if you're Salvi, you add one new element that may not thematically relate to the rest of the sculpture, but hey, it blocks that ugly sign! He created the asso di coppe or the ace of cups. It just sticks out on the side. Nowadays, there is no barbershop sign being blocked, but the cup is still there.

Let's move on to some of the odder elements we discovered. Maybe all that talk of a gigantic fountain stimulates your bladder. You may have to use the toilet, but probably not as much as these two. It's a sign we saw in a restaurant.
It's a kind of dance
How do jewelry shops in Rome convince people to come in and view their wares? Well, how about a giant sparkling skull? Because sometimes even your skeleton needs some bling.
I even make decomposition look good
Here is a detail from a fountain in the Piazza della Rotonda:
Is it about to spit out water, acid, or hell fire?
I guess it's a demon or a troll kind of thing. But even scarier than him are his two companions. Fish bodies, ducklike faces, but with teeth! I think they are supposed to be dolphins. But they aren't the friendly, let's go swimming with these playful guys, kinds of dolphins I'm used to. I guess they made dolphins a lot scarier in the old days.

Back to trivialities, in some of my previous posts, I have considered cans of soda. As you may recall, in South Africa you get a can of Coke with 330 mL in it. In Morocco, however, you get a can of Coke with 33 cL in it. Yes, they are the same amount, and the two cans, though labeled differently, are essentially the same.

But here in Italy, while you do get a can of Coke with 330 mL in it, it isn't at all the same proportions as those in South Africa or Morocco. It is taller and narrower. Why is this? I don't know, but I tweeted Coca-Cola with my question. I will have to post an update when they answer.
A tall tale about a tall can
You know how we all hate junk mail and spam? Well, some companies in Rome have taken that idea even further. If you have a business with big open doors or windows at ground level, you might have shutters or overhead rolltop doors to protect your business. And those are going to need replacement someday, right? Well, shutter companies want to make sure you have their number handy when that day arrives. So they just plaster the rolltop door or the sides of the window with their stickers to make sure you know their services are available. What if one of that company's stickers already there? No problem, just put another. It never hurts to advertise twice. Or three times. Or ten times.
When shutters make you shudder
Happily we are not driving in Rome. Not because the roads are so crazy. Certainly they are far more tame than in Morocco. Not even because of the challenge of getting petrol, which is surprisingly different here. There's no room for entire service stations. So instead, the petrol stations are just along the side of the road. A couple of parking spots eliminated, and two pumps. You pull up, pay, pump, and go. (I'm not sure what you do if your gas tank is on the driver's side of the car, though. I guess stand in traffic and stretch the hose over your car.)
Gas and Go! (Or Petrol and Pwoosh)
But the major issue here is parking. It is apparent that there is not enough of it. And what makes it so apparent? Oh, the creative (and most likely illegal and contributing to the downfall of society) ways that Romans find to park.

Here are a few I noticed.

Bus Lane Parking: Sure, it says it's reserved for the bus, but they don't really mean that, right? Look at this huge amount of space! I have to park here.
Oh, that's why so much space was available.
Motorcycles on the sidewalk: See these little marks on the sidewalk?
Mystery marks
Well, I found out what makes them.
Mystery solved and without even getting Scooby-Doo's help
Beyond Compact Cars Only: If you get a super duper small car, you can fit where no man has gone before. You might have to be perpendicular in a parallel parking zone, but hey, you fit!
"Parallel" parking is so last century
Double Parking: Now, double parking is nothing new, right? Well, what about a driver deciding to park in the yellow stripes that indicate a no parking zone. And the second guy thinks this was so clever, he decides to block him in by double parking.
Two can play at that game
Double Parking 2.0: If that's not enough, what if we double park at the corner, in the lane that should be used for turns!
Just don't need to make a left turn and we'll all be fine, okay?
I guess the moral of the story is this. When in Rome, you may do as the Romans do. But don't do it elsewhere.

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