The Italian Almanac

fontana delle api

Italian Art - July 12

A stone bee, sculpted on a central Roman fountain by Italian baroque maestro Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is the latest victim of the city's statue vandals. The bee, one of three on the so-called 'Fontana delle Api' (Bee Fountain) at the beginning of the chic Via Veneto, has been decapitated and its head taken away, presumably as a souvenir.

It is a frustrating yet familiar scenario for Romans who love the many statues and sculptures that grace their city, reminding residents and tourists of its glorious artistic heritage . This case is especially aggravating for authorities because the very same bee had its head sliced off a year ago. Council experts studied photographs, made a replica and attached it only two months ago.

Bernini, considered the greatest exponent of the Italian baroque, sculpted the bee fountain in 1644, 13 years before he started work on the famous colonnade in front of St Peter's Basilica . The design of the fountain, commissioned by Pope Urban VIII, features a large shell and three bees, the symbol of the pontiff's noble family, the Barberinis.

The latest incident involving one of Bernini's works is the latest in a long sequence of vandalism involving Rome's statues, many of which are in unprotected positions.