Fontana Nova

Old Town

Fontana Nova

1124 – 1130

Consisting of a large vaulted basin, the fountain is backed by a wall made of macco, a limestone and clay mixture. Its facade is made up of six arches supported by short columns topped by leafy capitals. At the centre of each arch on the back wall, there are six spouts that were fed by a conduit running behind the curtain and connected to an underground tunnel.
The fountain dates back to the pontificate of Pope Honorius II (1124-30) was built at the same time as the nearby Church of Santa Maria in Castello and it was originally known as the Fontana Antica (Ancient Fountain).

From the town, via the Porta Falsa (Fake Gate) or Porta del Fiore (Gate of Flowers), a covered walkway along a rocky ridge, called via coperta, led to the town’s main water source. At the end of the 14th century, the fountain was renovated, and a wash-house and a basin (inguaçatoro – vegetable soaking basin) were added, resulting in the renaming of the structure to Fontana Nova (New Fountain).
The use of the fountain was regulated by the statute of the guild called Statuti dell’arte degli Ortolani (1379), which were mentioned in the Statuti di Corneto (1436), and farmers and shoemakers were entrusted with its maintenance in 1545.

During the 16th-17th centuries, a cistern was constructed next to the fountain, changing the original course of the water and thus modifying the use of fountain. The closure of Porta Falsa (17th century) and the subsequent abandonment of the covered street contributed to the decline of the structure.
In 1965, the Gruppo Archeologico Tarquiniese (Tarquinia Archaeological Group) began restoration work based on historical evidence (Polidori, Croniche; Dasti, Notizie), after inspecting a long stretch of the water supply tunnel. Since 1994, the Associazione Fontana Nova (Fontana Nova Association) has been responsible for the monument’s definitive restoration and the surrounding area.

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Photography by: César Vásquez Altamirano, Tiziano Crescia, Roberto Romano, Sailko Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported, Paolo Monti

Translations by Ylenia Marcucci e Alessandro Rotatori