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 Via Paolina gained the nickname 'Via del Babuino', as a result. (I am not sure how many Romans in the late 16th century knew what a baboon actually looked like!)
In time the nickname became the real name of the street, which, since October 16th, 2002, has been twinned with Madison Avenue in New York.
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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