The return of the Triton
After one year under renovation, the Triton Fountain in Rome is back to its original beauty since last November 19th. The lime scale build-up on Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s masterpiece in Piazza Barberini has been removed, and the lighting and water recirculation systems have been renovated.
Obviously this was not the first time that the fountain – the first among those created by the Neapolitan architect in Rome between 1642 and 1643 for his mentor, Pope Urban VIII – needed maintenance. The previous renovation had been carried out in 1998, although the most “dramatic” renovation was in 1932, when the monument appeared so different after its heavy incrustations had been removed that newspapers at the time reported perhaps the original had been replaced with a copy.
Now the mighty god of the seas, his legs both covered in scales, blows once again into his conch and spurts a vertical jet of water (which used to also produce a hiss, giving the fountain the nickname of “Sounding Triton”).
Once again, the wind ruffles the water in the wide basin, where four dolphins emerge with their mouths open, holding a massive bivalve shell with their tails, as if on a pedestal. A god that is half man and half fish towers over this baroque pyramid, blowing into his marine instrument to cause terrible storms or to intone a delicate song of peace… and to inspire wonder in the beholder.