The Importance of Fountains in 16th Century Rome
The Bernini version of the fountain underwent more restoration about thirty years later, being enlarged by Carlo Fontana, adding yet another inscription which reads, "This fountain – already restored by his predecessors – being disfigured by its great age, and with water overflowing because the basin was too small, was restored for public use in a more elegant form by Innocent XII [1691-1700] P. M. in 1692, the second year of his pontificate; this work being done after the squalor caused by dirt had first been cleaned away and the basin enlarged".
The same pontiff issued a coin in eternal commemoration of the restoration about two years later.
The phrasing of the inscription contains the swagger and eloquence of the 16th century. But it must be recognized that the words of Innocent XII was the repetition of edicts and proclamations about the need to clean fountains. Unfortunately this failed at a greater rate that the proclamation of edicts. Most of the people in Rome did not have water in their homes, but would crowd around the public fountains. The people would use the fountains for a variety of purposes, resulting in the proclamation for cleanliness and conservation, here is an example from an edict issued in 1624, "Each and every individual is expressly forbidden to swim, to wash clothes, rags, barrels, smelting pots, buckets, tables or other sorts of wooden items, or dogs, cats and other animals in the aforementioned fountains of whatever kind"
The washing of just about everything in the public fountains goes to prove the love of cleanliness by the Roman population.