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Fontana delle Tartarughe

Fontana delle Tartarughe (61)

The Fontana delle Tartarughe or Fountain of the Turtles is located in Piazza Mattei and was built in 1580 by Giacomo della Porta and Taddeo Landini. 

What you will find most striking about the fountain are the sculptures of the four slim young men with provocative smiles, who are playing on the edges with their feet supported on a dolphin’s head. It was not until the following century that the turtles were added and there is still doubt as to whether they were the work of Bernini or of Andrea Sacchi.

Supplied by the Acueducto Vergine, the fountain was intended for the neighbouring Plaza Giudea, but Muzio Mattei used his influence to have it built opposite his palace. In exchange, the family promised to surface the square and keep the fountain clean. 

A curious fact you should be aware of is the legend that tells of how Duke Mattei built the fountain in a day to show his father-in-law that, despite having lost everything, he was still capable of doing great things. The following day, Mattei brought his fiancée and father-in-law to the palace to look at the work from the window. He then ordered the window to be walled up so that nobody else could enjoy the spectacular view. The wall remains in place even today. 

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