The hillsides surrounding this area used to be covered with vegetable gardens and vineyards, with lanes and pathways leading onto Palazzo Barberini's private courtyard. The country garden atmosphere has been totally lost in the modern arrangements of this piazza. The large arch that you can still see on the right, just past today's cinema, was part of the entrance into what was once this noble family's theater.
In the center of today's piazza there is the Fountain of the Triton, bearing Bernini's unmistakable mark. The artist designed the fountain in 1643 when work on the Barberini Palace had been completed.
The heraldic symbols of the famous pope Urban VIII stand out clearly on the fountain, which was Bernini's first foray into an art field where he was to show his great talent and originality. He had a genius for incorporating that lively, mobile element, water, into his sculpture.
Until the end of the 18th century, the bodies of the unknown dead were left on show in front of this fountain. A town crier would invite the people to come and recognize the bodies.