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Piazza Barberini lies at the foot of several Roman streets, among them Via Barberini, Via Sistina, and Via Vittorio Veneto. It would be a far more pleasant spot were it not for the heavy traffic swarming around its principal feature, Bernini’s recently cleaned Fountain of the Triton (Fontana del Tritone) ★. For more than 3 centuries, the strange figure sitting in a vast open clam has been blowing water from his triton. Off to one side of the piazza is the aristocratic side facade of the Palazzo Barberini, named for one of Rome’s most powerful families; inside hosts the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica. The Renaissance Barberini dynasty reached their peak when a son was elected pope as Urban VIII; he encouraged Bernini and gave him patronage.

 

As you go up Via Vittorio Veneto, look for the small fountain on the right corner of Piazza Barberini—it’s another Bernini, the Fountain of the Bees (Fontana delle Api). At first they look more like flies, but they’re the bees of the Barberini crest, complete with the crossed keys of St. Peter above them. The keys were always added to a family crest when a son was elected pope.

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