Since Roman times when it first flowed through the aqueducts – many of which are still in use today – the water in Roma has been known to have a high calcium content. It is perfectly safe to drink – in fact people like Marco and Walter poo poo our attempts to filter water, destroys the taste of your coffee Marco says. However when I see what it does to the dishwasher, washer and various pipes around the house I wonder what it will do to my pipes and they do say that kidney stones are endemic.
That calcium also clogs the pipes of the various public fountains – decorative and practical – throughout the city. At the moment the Moses Fountain at Piazza Santa Susana is being completely refitted for the first time in over a century and even the lovely little La fontana delle Tartarughe (the Fountain of the Turtles) which was restored as recently as 2006 is already showing signs of calcium staining.
On Tuesday as we left the stunning courtyard of the Palazzo Mattei di Giove (pictures to follow) our route took us through Piazza Mattei (hey they owned the neighbourhood!) and the Fontana was blocked off. Two young conservators (apparently in a fortune in designer clothes according to a friend who should know) were cleaning it.
The shell basins of the fountain had to be emptied using buckets – nothing hi-tech here. And there was nothing very hi-tech about how the marble was being cleaned – the technician was using masking tape.
She was applying a small strip and then ripping it off quickly – a little bit like the process I understand is used in depilation – ouch! I attempted to take a few more photos but she became most upset that I had taken one already – apparently I was interrupting her work. I won’t question the logic.
The top photo shows one of the basins before the process had started and the bottom one an hour so after the cleaning had begun. It is a long procedure and I gather the fountain would be closed for several days.
09 ottobre – San Dionigi di Parigi