Trinita de Monti

In 1661 Rome came into the possession of a large sum of money left to the city by the learned French gentleman, Etienne de Gueffier, for the express purpose of constructing a magnificent stone stairway which should cover this slope of the Pincian Hill, and unite for all time the Campus Martius with the terraces above. The stairway was long in building, and during its construction the connection between the Academy in the Mancini Palace and the old terraces of the Trinita de Monti may have been slender; but in 1725 the Scalinata was opened with great pomp, and once again French artists could spend long hours on their beloved terraces. Seventy-six years later Napoleon, with his supreme instinct for effect (a possession he shared with Julius Caesar),* and not unmindful of the French association with this quarter of the city, removed the French Academy from the old Mancini Palace and lodged it permanently and most impressively where it now is, in the Villa Medici, the villa built by that family which had given two queens to France. So the fountain of the Trinita de Monti is still a feature in the life of the French artists at Rome; and it is perhaps a pardonable fancy that, in this particular fountain, the Acqua Felice plays in French!

* Suetonius, Bk. I. And he (Caesar) mounted the Capitol by torch­light with forty elephants bearing lamps on his right and on his left.

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