Rome restores Fontana del Babuino

Fountain restoration sponsored by Brioni.

The Fontana del Babuino on the central Via del Babuino is undergoing a €25,000 restoration, sponsored by Rome-based clothing company Brioni and overseen by the city. The renovation works on the fountain, currently in poor repair, will take 50 days.

Located beside the Chiesa di S. Atanasio dei Greci, the statue depicts a reclining Silenus, the half-man, half-goat from ancient Greek mythology. The monument was built in the late 16th century for the wealthy merchant Patrizio Grandi who, according to the then custom, obtained free water for personal use in exchange for donating the fountain to the city.

Romans considered the representation of Silenus ugly, resembling more a baboon, or "babbuino", than a satyr. The name stuck and the street – originally named Via Clementina in honour of Pope Clement VII Medici (1523-1534) – became known as Via del Babuino.

The fountain joined Rome's so-called talking statues, along with that of Pasquino (off Piazza Navona), Madama Lucrezia (Piazza Venezia), Marforio (Capitoline Museums), Facchino (close to the senate) and Abate Luigi (beside the church of S. Andrea della Valle). It was customary in the 16th century for Romans to attach pasquinades — anonymous satirical complaints directed at public figures — to these monuments, a tradition that has continued to modern times.

In the case of the Fontana del Babuino, the wall behind the fountain is now treated with anti-graffiti paint, to prevent vandalism.

Over the centuries the statue was moved to several other locations in Rome but was returned to its original street in 1957.

On 3 November Rome's Trevi Fountain was unveiled following a €2 million restoration sponsored by fashion house Fendi.