The Fountain of the Baboon (Fontana del Babuino), which is situated in Via del Babuino, is clearly nothing of the sort!
In 1581, Patrizio Grandi, a rich merchant, built a public fountain in what was then Via Paolina. Grandi decorated the fountain with an ancient statue of Silenus, a character in Roman mythology, who is half man, half goat.
The locals, however, who were shocked by its ugliness, soon christened the statue il babuino (the baboon), and in time Via Paolina (as the street was originally called) became Via del Babuino. (I am not sure how many Romans in the late 16th century knew what a baboon actually looked like!)
Since October 16th, 2002, Via del Babuino has been twinned with Madison Avenue in New York, as a plaque duly records.
Il Babuino was once one of Rome's six talking statues.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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