The Felice Aqueduct – Rome - History and Facts | History Hit

The Felice Aqueduct – Rome

Rome, Lazio, Italy

The Felice Aqueduct in Rome dates back to the sixteenth century.

Peta Stamper

31 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Felice Aqueduct – Rome

The Felice Aqueduct in Rome is a late 16th century aqueduct built by Pope Sixtus V. The site is within the Via Appia Antica Regional Park, which offers bicycle hire to see all of the sites in the area.

The Felice Aqueduct history

The Felice Aqueduct was named for Pope Sixtus V, whose birth name Felice Peretti he never fully abandoned. Under Sixtus’ papacy, corruption and lawlessness across Rome were stamped out. Although, during his far-sighted rebuilding programme, so controversially were a selection of Rome’s antiquities.

Construction lasted eighteen months, ending in 1586, and the Felice Aqueduct became early modern Rome’s first aqueduct. Its source was the springs at Pantano Borghese, and the aqueduct ran fifteen miles including eight miles underground, to reach Quirinal Hill forming a new piazza in Rome.

The engineer, Gionvanni Fontana, recorded that the very day Sixtus became pope he decided to bring water to Rome’s hills again, that had been dry and home to several monasteries after the Roman aqueducts were destroyed in the 6th century. At the same time, Sixtus was planning a street plan to modernise the main arteries of modern Rome. By 1589, water filled twenty-seven public fountains.

The Felice Aqueduct’s journey marked an end at the Fontana dell’Acqua Felice, a monument to the engineering achievement of an aqueduct. However, this fountain was considered even in the 17th century as unfashionable. It displays marble basins flanked by Egyptian lions spitting water for the local inhabitants to collect. Beside the fountain, Sixtus had two long basins installed for washing laundry, and a covered waterhouse for women to bath privately.

The Felice Aqueduct today

Situated within the notable Roman Appian Way Regional Park in the south eastern area of Rome, the Felice Aqueduct is easily accessible within this busy Italian city. After viewing the Julian Aqueduct, stand underneath the remaining arches of the Felice Aqueduct, imagining the immense planning and calculations needed for its successful construction and function.

Alternately, from a distance you can better appreciate the sturdy stone structure that stretches across your view dotted with sunburnt trees.

Getting to The Felice Aqueduct

Along the MEA subway line, you can reach the Felice Aqueduct from the Giulio Agricola stop, a 650m walk away. Or you can get the 557 bus line to Anicio Gallo/Appio Claudio. If driving or getting a taxi, the aqueduct is along the Via Lemonia.