Piazza Navona is just next door! This picturesque piazza houses three graceful fountains. Bernini created the central one, i Quattro Fiumi (The Four Rivers), for his employer Pope Innocent X. Rumor had it that Innocent X, eager to inaugurate the fountain, visited Bernini as he was wrapping up the project. When the Pope asked Bernini if he could see the fountain with the water running, Bernini said the fountain was still weeks away from completion. Disappointed, the Pope turned to leave. That’s when Bernini gave his workmen a secret signal. They turned on the water, and the sound of four crashing rivers stopped Innocent X in his tracks!
The photo shows a detail of the Ganges River. Legend has it that he lifts his hand to protect his sight from the Church of Saint Agnese (whose facade Borromini created). A good story, but somewhat inexact, since Borromini received his commission after Bernini finished the fountain! The story does testify however to the rivalry that Bernini and Borromini expressed as they worked in Rome’s downtown.