Possibly the Oldest Fountain in Rome
The final inscription was from 1873, stating the fountain had been restored to its first design, which is interesting, because it still appears as it did on the original sketch. The significance of this tale is that this fountain is a very old fountain, possible the oldest in Rome, as all the changes have been documented. But could there have been one that stood where it stood, before it was there?
We are now going to examine the weird history of the Fons olei fountain. This name is still attached to an alleyway in the Piazza Santa Maria in Travestere.
The fountain was already established to be very old, even if this is not able to be proven. However, when dissecting the story of the oil well, it should become apparent that there was most likely a previous fountain that stood in the same location as the later fountain, well, before Bernini moved it that is.
In 1659, Bernini brought the Aqau Paola to the fountain instead of the Aqau Felice, which had watered the fountain since the late 1500’s. We also know that the fountain had previously been fed from the Aqua Alsientina. A reliable writer, Marliani, who wrote of Augustus’s “Numachia” (the giant pool used for real ship battles), stated that the fountain received after from the Aqau Alsientina, which Augustus had built. Marliani’s writing states, "This water [Alsietina] was taken from the Via Claudia, 14 miles from Rome; you can see the conduit, which is almost 3 feet above the ground, in the Naumachia; then it is hidden once more and carried underground to the fountain in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, where it serves for public and private use. They say it is this waters that Hadrian I had reinstalled."