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Apart from their obvious scenic features, there are at least two reasons why you find a lot of big fountains in Rome: first of all, the Romans are historically known for their love of the water (the Termae were a sort public meeting place) and their attitude towards personal hygiene, a top priority since the time of the Republic and even more with the Empire. Believe it or not, the per-capita quantity of water available and consumed by the citizens of the Roman Empire was superior to that of modern times.

top-view detail of the Four Rivers Fountains
the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, by Bernini
, likely one of the most famous in Rome

The other, tightly connected reason, is that the Popes maintained the tradition of building and managing the aqueducts that took water to Rome to satisfy its needs but also as a tribute to the City. When a new source was available, the achievement was often displayed with a new fountain, called mostra, "something that shows": from the Latin verb "monstro", later the Italian verb "mostrare" (that stands for "to show"), comes this word which almost exclusively used for this specific purpose in the modern language. So, for instance, the "Mostra dell'Acqua Paola al Gianicolo" is a terminal display for the water of the aqueduct built under Pope Paulus V.

The Baroque in Rome was all about scenery, like if the whole place was to become a theatre, and fountains were an essential element of decoration, especially in the largest squares, so the affection for this architectural elements probably reached its apex.

the Naiades fountain, near the Diocletian Termae
the Naiades fountain, near the Diocletian Termae and the Termini Station

And yet it never ceased to exist, as more recent achievements, such as the big "Fountain of the Naiades" (nearby the Termini Station and the "Terme di Diocleziano", finished in 1901), came in the 19th and 20th century.
A last advice: when in Rome, remember that even smaller fountains often feature noteworthy details or admirable craftmanship, or may have some curious story related to them, so take you time to admire them all!

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