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61. The Porter... and the Roman "pasquinades"

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

By - Giulio D'Ercole

Downtown Rome there are five talking statues. Why are they called "talking statues"? Because irreverent satirical verses were posted close to them. Those anonymous, bitingly critical lampoons made fun of famous public figures, cracking rhymed jokes on them. Those verses were called "Pasquinades".... but I will tell you about Pasquino in a future Blog.

The Porter is one of these talking statues of Rome. Like the other five "talking statues", Il Facchino (Italian for "the Porter") absolved its role in between the 14th and 15th centuries. In fact, the statue was designed and made around 1580, by Jacopo del Conte for the Corporazione degli Aquaroli , and it was originally sited on the via del Corso, on the main facade of the Palazzo De Carolis Simonetti, not far from piazza Venezia . Though, in 1874, the fountain was moved to its current position, to the side of the same building, on the via Lata.

"The Porter" portrays a man wearing a cap and a sleeved shirt, carrying a barrel: it is the representation of an "acquarolo", a man carrying water taken from the Tiber and to be sold on the streets of Rome. Such business was needed during the period before the Roman aqueducts were repaired at the orders of the Popes and the public fountains put back to function. In the sculpture the water spouts from the center of the barrel, creating a fountain.

As we can see Porter's face is badly damaged. The reason for this is just another interesting Roman story: since the man is wearing a hat looking like the one used by Martin Luther, the Catholic Romans used to throw pebbles to its face, slowly by slowly breaking it.

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