Fountains Of Dissent

Architectural drawing: Source

In 1932, the quiet Italian town of Ridona's sanitation works were unexpectedly re-routed to its system of ancient mannerist public fountains. For five days the public squares were abandoned as they became displays to the residents very public ablutions.

It remains undocumented what triggered this malicious action but there were speculations of a dispute between the town's Mayor and its fountain engineers who were unhappy with the prevailing right wing local government policies.

Fountain head: Source

Despite the inconvenience however, tourists from surrounding areas came to the small town in such vast numbers to see the vulgar displays that the Mayor decided to continue the activity in a select few fountains in a square away from market stalls, and prevailing winds. During festivals the local community had even come to agree a timetable of food choices known for their unique coloring after effects - bringing added spectacle to the fountains unsightly appearance.

Map of Rome detail: Source

Historically it is not uncommon for towns and cities to become well known for the notorious reputations they gather through time. The favors of respected towns are more easily waylaid than one would imagine, and likewise many a wayward town's reputation has been restored after long distant atrocities slip from the collective memory, either with the passage of time or through deliberated plotting. In the years before the birth of the independent tourist guide, it is after all often mayors and town fathers that more often than not would set the agenda for what posterity would curate.

Composite image: Source

Many of the first tourist guides found themselves persecuted and manhandled or worse tricked with an illusionary presentation of town life that would return to normality after they had left. Tourist guide writers were forced to go to such lengths to review a location unnoticed that they became many of the earliest adopters of crude cosmetic surgery to reshape their appearance convincingly. Despite elaborate tourist guide tracking services that were engaged in by cities and towns it became harder and harder to follow their movements. It was only then that the first true tourist guides emerged. The first identikits were doubtless those designed to annotate the characteristics of the average tourist guide.

It is unlikely in any case that Ridona's tourist guide will mention what became of that rebellious water engineer, whose remains to this day permanently flow around the city's water system as punishment.

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