Water Features and a Refuge In the Greenery

A tour of the Coffee-House and the fountains in the Quirinale Gardens

By Quirinale Palace

A refuge in the greenery

According to chronicles from the time, the Coffee-House was constructed because Pope Benedict XIV wanted to enjoy amenities in the greenery, even in winter. However, the Pope jokingly said that it served as a place to "go and disrobe."

The pontiff was very passionate about the gardens and wanted to have a space among the greenery where he could have private meetings, even in the colder months. The Coffee-House was in fact an elegant belvedere with a magnificent panoramic view of the city of Rome.

The rich Rococo decoration of this setting is embellished with two large canvases by the painter Giovanni Paolo Panini from Piacenza. The buildings featured in the two paintings were the work of Ferdinando Fuga, the architect who designed the Coffee-House.

The two rooms inside the Coffee-House were decorated in the 18th century according to a graceful Rococo theme.

Of note is a faux window, through which a garden can be seen. This painting hides a small door, which led to a tiny service room that no longer exists.

Looking towards the palace, one of the most significant works of the garden can be seen in the distance: the sundial sculpted by Francesco Borromini in 1628. Designed as a mathematical ornament, it has a unique structure consisting of four concave faces, which chart the path of the sun throughout the day.

The Fountain of the Bathers

In line with the Coffee-House, there is another important part of the garden: the Fountain of the Bathers (La Fontana delle Bagnanti).
This eighteenth-century group of statues comes from the gardens of the famous Palace of Caserta (Reggia di Caserta).

The Martinucci Fountain

This part of the garden is arranged according to the French style of wide, open spaces decorated with low green flowerbeds.
Situated in the center of this space is the Martinucci Fountain (La Fontana Martinucci), which takes its name from the architect who designed it in the first half of the nineteenth century.

The Rustic Fountain

The Rustic Fountain (La Fontana Rustica) dates to the mid-16th century, when the property on the Quirinal estate was rented to Cardinal Ippolito d'Este. At that time, the great pontifical palace had not yet been built.

Detail of the floor of the Rustic Fountain with the pope's coat of armsQuirinale Palace

Today, the structure is like a natural rocky formation, covered with greenery with a waterfall in the center. The mosaic floor dates to 1622, and bears the emblem of Pope Gregory XV in the center.

View of the Rustic Fountain in the Boschetto of the Quirinale gardensQuirinale Palace

A sonnet by Giuseppe Gioachino Belli describes how Pope Gregory XVI had fun accompanying a prelate to the fountain and then suddenly switched on the jets from the floor so that he got soaking wet.

The Organ Fountain

The Organ Fountain (La Fontana dell'Organo) is one of the oldest and most important monuments. Explore all its secrets by clicking here

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