Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fountains & Shrines

The parents of Mabel Watson Payne, like all citizens of San Francisco, carry enamelized metal water bottles wherever they go, and how they did enjoy filling these in Rome from the public fountains that abounded, no two alike.

Heading for some predetermined destination we would often be sidetracked by one of the numberless utilitarian wall fountains or by some other street sight and would stop to admire and speculate, since we were seldom in a hurry. Sidewalk shrines would get us every time.

This final fountain, recently restored, was built into an outer wall that formerly housed the Sapienza, Rome's university. It featured four large books, and the water spigots emerged from dangling bookmarks. The otherwise surrealistic deer head between the books (with its own water spouts) referred to the nearby church of Sant' Eustachio, which was also decorated with deer heads. Saint Eustachio, we learned, was "the patron of the hunt."