It’s a well-known fact that Rome is full of fountains. There are the drinking fountains, or nasoni, that are spread across the city. And yes, you can drink from them! The water is totally fresh and free! And then there are the decorative fountains, like the Fontana di Trevi and the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola.
These days, it’s not a great idea to drink from the decorative fountains. They need a lot of water and I’ve heard that the city now uses recycled water to keep them flowing. Also, if you try and drink from the Trevi, then you will be fined!
But they are stunning to visit. Even more so when you get secret access to step inside the fountain! Which is exactly what I got to do on a recent hidden gems tour of Rome with The Roman Guy tour company.
Introducing The Roman Guy
You might have heard me mention The Roman Guy Before.
Last year I joined up with them to take an epic ebike tour of Rome. I still owe you guys a proper review of that tour, but to sum it up quickly, it was awesome! Not just because I got to spin around the ancient ruins of Rome on a bike (you guys know I love cycling, right?). But also because the team we were with was super fun!
So when The Roman Guy invited me to a recent private tour of the Hidden Gems of Rome, I was super excited to see them again! Especially when I found out that we would be meeting at the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola.
I accidentally stumbled on this fountain last year while getting lost in Rome (I still do this a lot). Not only is it a stunning fountain! But it’s also located at the top of Gianicolo Hill; a hill which offers breathtaking views of the Eternal City.
A (Very) Short History Of The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola
The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola was built in 1612 and was commissioned by Pope Paul V. According to Brandon, one of the two guys who run The Roman Guy, Pope Paul V had a bit of rivalry going on with one of his predecessors who had built the Fontana dell’Acqua Felice.
So after restoring the Aqua Traiana aqueduct (and renaming it the Acqua Paola aqueduct because… ego), Pope Paul V wanted his very own water fountain. And the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola was born.
Serious historical facts aside, there are really only two things you should know about the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola:
1. The fountain’s designer was Giovanni Fontana. Yes, you got it. A guy called John Fountain built Paul’s water fountain.
2. The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola is also known as Il Fontanone, or The Big Fountain. Something I’m sure Pope Paul V’s ego is pretty happy about now.
Luckily for you guys, John’s Big Fountain (which I think sounds way cooler – what do you think?) it still standing over 400 years later! But not only can it be still be seen looming over the panoramic landscape of Rome. There’s also a secret side door that allows exclusive visitors to step inside the fountain!
Of course, like any secret hidden gems in Rome, to get inside the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola you need connections. Fortunately, The Roman Guy has plenty of these.
Which is how I ended up sipping prosecco from the inside of John’s Big Fountain on a sunny Thursday afternoon…
Behind The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola With The Roman Guy
Before I get to the part where we’re actually behind the fountain, I want to tell you about what it’s like to meet up with The Roman Guy team. And long story short, they are always smiling.
Whether you’ve met them before or not, the team at The Roman Guy really start to feel like friends almost as soon as you meet them! Of course, they’re smart as well as cheerful. Smart enough to hand us glasses of prosecco as soon as we entered the secret entrance to the fountain…. just to make sure we all got along!
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I was taking the private tour of the hidden gems of Rome with other bloggers and writers based in Rome. Obviously, we all had something in common and so The Roman Guy made sure to give us more than enough time before the tour started to get to know each other.
And, being bloggers, we all spent plenty of time taking photos of the view. It was special enough just being behind the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. But the thought that we were getting an exclusive view of Rome that almost no tourist ever gets was extra special.
After our prosecco welcome, Brandon gave us the history of John’s Big Fountain in incredible detail. And then we headed to an Ancient pharmacy run by a monastery that opened in the 16th Century, and a secret cheese shop that sold what I have to say was the best buffalo mozzarella I have ever tasted!
I’ll be writing about both these experiences soon But, if you’re already convinced that you want exclusive access to the hidden gems of Rome, then you can get in touch with The Roman Guy team today via their website!
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As I said, I was a guest of The Roman Guy on this trip to the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. But as I already mentioned in this blog post, I am a big fan of their tours and have to say that they are my favourite tour company in Rome! They also cater for almost every budget, so check them out today!
Lots of love,