Fontana delle Tartarughe
One of Rome's most beloved fountains is a fanciful work that involved three artists. The Fontana delle Targarughe - the Turtles Fountain - sits in the middle of Piazza Mattei, between the Campidoglio and the Tiber River, south of the Teatro Argentina. The original fountain was designed by Giacomo dell Porte in 1581 and included the four marble shells that collect water trickling down from the upper bowl, which is supported by a marble urn. Dolphins rest their heads on the shells. The four bronze youths were added by Taddeo Landini, while the playful turtles that peak over the edge of upper basin were added a century later by an unknown artist, though many attribute them to Bernini.
The Mattei family paved the piazza in order to have the fountain installed, part of a civic works project to bring water from an aqueduct to the Campo Marzo district, the most populous neighborhood of medieval Rome. The noble family also took on the task of cleaning the fountain, which fronted their palace.
In 1979 one of turtles was stolen; the remaining originals were replaced by reproductions. The three originals are kept safely in the Capitoline Museum.
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