The #Talking #Statues of #Rome


Did you know that inRome they have “talking statues”?

Come find out what is all about..

The so-called “talking statues” are the means by which Rome has always been opposed to the arrogance and corruption of the ruling classes with a great and unique sense of humor.

Since the beginning of the Sixteenth Century , had begun to spread a kind of rebellion to power, with billboards night of epigrams in Latin or Italian at a number of statues that stood in crowded places of the city, so that everyone could read the messages in the morning, before they were removed by the guards. And the authors, of course, remained unknown.

The signs were sometimes poems, sometimes humorous dialogues: from this tradition arose a literary satire denouncing immorality and abuse of power by the mighty men of Rome, but in most cases the target of satire were the pope or the nobility related to him.

Not infrequently then, the buyers of satires were prelates and nobles who wanted to defame those who held the power to take over them.

The people began to assign nicknames to these statues, of which the most famous was “Pasquino” and from here was derived the tradition of calling satires as “Pasquinate” (of Pasquino or from Pasquino).

The production of “Pasquinate”, written even in dialect in Nineteenth Century, continued uninterruptedly until the fall of the temporal power of the Popes and occasional mild forms has continued to the present day: many talking statues seem to have lost the word , but remain however firmly in place .


From 1501 “Pasquino” is located behind the beautiful Piazza Navona, in a small open space named Pasquino square after the statue.

It is a torso of a male figure, probably from the Third Century BC It is so badly preserved that saying certainty who it represents is almost impossible, perhaps a king or a maybe a hero from ancient Greece.

Although little is known about the origin of the nickname, legend has it that the statue had been discovered at a barber shop (or according to another version, a tavern) whose owner was called Pasquino.

One of the most famous joke (Pasquinate) written on it, is the one directed to Pope Urban VIII of the Barberini family, who ordered to remove the Bernini bronze parts from the Pantheon for the realization of the great canopy of S.Peter (1633): “Quod non fecerunt barbarians, fecerunt Barberini” ruled Pasquino.


Another statue is known as “Marforio”, a long bearded figure lying on a side, which decorates the courtyard of the Palazzo Nuovo, a wing of the Capitoline Museums. Perhaps it is an allegory of a river, probably the Tiber, or maybe it’s Neptune, the God of the seas. His original place of provenance is the Roman Forum, from where it was moved in the late Sixteenth Century.
Marforio was considered the “shoulder” of Pasquino, because some of the satire in the two statues spoke to each other: one was asking questions about social problems or policy, and the other gave witty answers.



Il Facchino  (the porter)

The “Porter” is a small fountain that represents a male figure, whose face is almost completely deteriorated, he’s pouring water from a barrel, the dress worn by the figure is the typical costume of the guild of porters, from which the name of the character.

The statue was originally located on the main facade of Palazzo De Carolis (Via del Corso) then, in 1874, was moved to the Via Lata, just around the corner.

It dates back to the second half of the Sixteenth Century, and according to a popular tradition was inspired by the figure of a “acquarolo”, the one who collected water from public fountains to sell it doorto door at moderate prices.


Madama Lucrezia

This huge marble bust, about 3 meters high, is located at the corner of Palazzetto Venezia, in Piazza San Marco. Probably comes from a temple dedicated to Isis and depicts a woman, perhaps a priestess of this cult or perhaps the same as Isis. The nickname comes from the noblewoman Lucrezia d’Alagna, favored by Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples, who spent his life and lived at the above place in the second half of the fifteenth century.


Abate Luigi

“Fui dell’alma Roma un cittadino

ora abate Luigi ognun mi chiama

conquistai con Marforio e con Pasquino

dalla satira urbana eterna fama;

ebbi offese, disgrazie e sepoltura,

ma qui vita novella e alfin sicura.”

“I was a citizen of the Soul of Rome

Abbot Luigi now every one calls me

conquered with Marforio and with Pasquino

from urban satire an eternal fame;

I was offended, had misfortunes and burial,

but here at last a safe new life” (more or less this is the meaning)

This brief epitaph reads on the basis that the claims’ “Abate Luigi” in Vidoni square, not far from Piazza Navona, on the left wall of the church of S. Andrea della Valle.

The statue depicts a man in a typical toga of the late Roman era and the nickname was probably inspired by the sacristan of the nearby church of the Shroud (chiesa del Sudario), which, according to popular tradition, resembled very much the statue.

The square was the location of the original ‘”Abate”, but over the centuries it changed location several times and  held in low esteem until in 1924, when it was relocated in the same mall.


the Baboon

The “Baboon” (il babbuino) is a recumbent figure of Silenus, in front of the church of St.Attanasio of the Greeks, in Via del Babuino. Constitutes the decorative element for a fountain, once used to water the horses on the edge of which the old character is lying since the Renaissance.

The nickname given to the figure is the result of the grinning face of Silenus, the Romans, seeing in it the shape of a monkey, now renamed “baboon”.


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