Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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One bizzare aspect of Rome is the overwhelming amount of fountains. Not only are there big and magnificent specimens, as pictured, but there are tiny fountains spewing fresh drinking water all over the city. And I'm not talking about the fountains where you press a button and a sipping-sized stream jets into the air, but garden-hose strength fountains of clean water just pouring into the gutter 24/7, without any discernable way to even turn it off. Some of the fountains are encased in stone baths, or in ornate metal frames, whereas others are just hydrants of eternal water. Furthermore, they're not just in the central downtown. On my unfortunate exploration of the Roman countryside, I managed to find fountains just in the middle of nowhere. Granted, I appreciated this greatly, but I cannot imagine how many hundreds of gallons spilled onto the ground before and after I took my drink.

... but I don't know what it is. However, as most of these amazing and terribly expensive artifacts, the tale usually involves intrigue, deception and, of course, the Pope. For example, another beautiful, though not quite as impressive fountain had near it a plaque explaining that when it was built, the neighborhood (which is completely urban now) was on the suburban outskirts of town. Despite being funded by the city's taxes, the the artist included in the design several bees, which were the symbol of a household nearby. Apparently this increased the family's prestige, as it was a direct favor from the state, and thus the entire square kept the family's name alive well longer than the family itself.

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