Paying for the Four Rivers Fountain
In order to fund this magnificent project, Pope Innocent decided to find the money needed by sending out the officials to measure the houses of the city, with the aim of increasing the property taxes. He decided not to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and tax wine. Instead he chose to raise the price of bread. This received a very poor reaction, especially since bread was for the common people, and these were the people who had no appreciation for the fountain that was being built.
The result in the city was that bread was no longer affordable. Bakeries could not afford to make decent white bread, so their products consisted of black, smelly bread with bits of earth and stones inside. The protests began, and as the wonderful obelisk was brought through the town to be assembled for the fountain, notes were stuck on it saying “We don’t want your ol’ Fountains and Towers. It’s good Bread we need and it should be Ours.” The anger of the people went further (as the bread was so smelly and black), that a loaf was actually found in the hands of a statue of Caesar in via dell’Impero with a verse of Pasquino that follows,
“Caesar, you’re the one whose belly’s lined with lead, so you can eat this Empire bread!”