Trinita de Monti

The terrace leads on the one hand to the gardens of the Pincio and on the other to the Church of the Trinita de Monti. From 1544 to 156o, when Annibale Lippi was working on the Villa Medici, that portion of the Pincian Hill covered to-day by the Pincian Gardens belonged to the Augustinian monks of the Piazza del Popolo. The villa stood on the ground between them and the gardens and convent of the Trinita de Monti. The terrace with the fountain was the approach to the cardinals villa and to the precincts of the convent. The old engravings show the fountain standing quite free from trees, which, however, are growing along the edge of the hill and down its slope. The fountain is generally ascribed to Annibale Lippi, but there seems to be no positive proof that it is his work. It resembles in general outline the fontanella on the balcony inside the villa, which is by Lippi; and the fact that the basin is made of bigio marble might put its date as early as Lippis time. The fountains in the first half of the Cinque Cento were generally made of marble or granite, whereas after Fontana and in Berninis period travertine was used almost exclusively. The villa was the property of Cardinal Monte Pulciano, but it was barely finished when Cardinal Ferdinand de Medici began negotiations for its purchase. Medici, whose childhood had been passed in the Bo-boli Gardens, which were created by bis father, spent eleven years in laying out and beautifying the gardens of this villa, where he had a small zoological collection, and also in making the gallery of Greek and Roman sculpture which rivalled that already belonging to his old friend Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. He returned to Florence in 1587, and some time after the villa passed into the hands of another Medici, Cardinal Alessandro, who became Pope Leo XI in i6o5. This Cardinal Alessandro de Medici also spent much time and money in the decoration of the villa, and it seems probable that the fountain was constructed during his tenure of the property, since the introduction of the Acqua Felice in 1587 had at last made it possible to have fountains on this hillside. Evelyn, describing this fountain in the last days of Pope Urban VIIIs pontificate, speaks of the magnificent jet of water spouting fifty feet into the air. The earliest engravings of it date from the middle of the Sei Cento and show the water springing from a large ball of travertine which has long since lost its size and shape from the constant action of the water. The pedestal and base of this fountain are also of travertine.

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