Fontana delle Api is located in Piazza Barberini, sharing the architectural complex with the monumental Fontana del Tritone. Both of these fountains were designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, one year apart from each other (the Triton Fountain was the first one constructed, and the first fountain ever designed by the said architect). Thus, the construction works at Fontana delle Api completed in 1644, the fountain being originally placed at the intersection of the square with Via Sistina (in the second half of the 19th century, it was dismantled and then reassembled in the place where Piazza Barberini opens to Via Vittorio Veneto).

The purpose of building this fountain was to provide the place with a trough from where horses could drink water. But Bernini did more than expected, such that his work resulted into an elegant free standing decorative jewel. The fountain was made of travertine, and shaped like an opened bi-valve shell. One of the valves collects the water, being, in fact, the basin where the water flows. The upper valve is decorated with three bees (from where the name of the fountain derives). The bees are the symbol of the Barberini family, of which Maffeo Barberini, elected pope under the name of Urban VIII, was born. An inscription on the Fountain of the Bees makes reference to this pope’s initiatives of decorating the city of Rome, in particular to the previously built Fontana del Tritone. At present, only a few elements (the central part of the upper valve and parts of one of the bees) are original, the rest of the fountain consisting of replicas (as a result of the repeated restoration and reconstruction works carried out in time, that is, in the second half of the 19th century, the early 20th century, and the year 2000).

Fontana delle Api (Fountain of the Bees)
Piazza Barberini, Rome, Italy