Neptune fountain: 5 things you don't know about the giant

Commissioned by a Pope, designed by an architect, created by a Belgian artist, the fountain of Neptune is one of the symbols of Bologna.
​Here are 5 curious stories that hard to find on your pocket Lonely Planet.

1. Why not in Piazza Maggiore?

Originally Neptune fountain should have been set in the centre of Piazza Maggiore.
During '500 century, Piazza Maggiore was a noisy open-air food market (that's why we start all our food tours in Bologna there).

Sometimes the Crescentone, the thicker step in the middle of the square that takes its name from a typical bread, became a theatrical setting or a sports field. Once it was even used as a naval battlefield, with a big swimming pool in the middle, and also today it becomes an open-air cinema every summer.

​For all these reasons Piazza Maggiore wasn't the right stage to exhibit the giant: he found his place just next door, with all the lights on him.

2. The Neptune represents the Pope

For about 300 years Bologna was controlled by the Pope.
You can tell it by walking through churches and monasteries or looking at the statue on Palazzo D'Accursio. But also Neptune statue has a deep relationship with the head of the Catholic Church.

In 1563 Pio IV became Pope. To assert his power over Bologna and take back the reins of the city, he conceived a symbol.
An imposing and severe God, that with his left hand calms the waters beneath him, controls the rebel Bolognese people and brings water to the city.

As Neptune dominates the waters, so the Pope dominates the world.
Neptune's fountain detail [Photo: Jim Moran]

3. Get a different perspective from the stone of shame

Sometimes prohibition develops wit. For sure Giambologna, sculptor of the Neptune, didn't lack that.

The Belgian artist wanted to give Neptune a more manly look, far from the rigorous dictates of Catholic Church. So he did with a clever expedient.

To see his trick just look for a darker stone, called Pietra della Vergogna (the stone of shame), just behind the statue.
Surprise!
​Standing on that point, the God looks powerful in every way.
Neptune's trident used by Maserati [Photo: Paolo Turini]

4. Neptune’s trident for Maserati

Bologna isn't only the city of food. Outside the city walls you find some of the best car and motorcycle producers like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Ducati.

Maserati is a luxury car brand born in Bologna, in a small garage near Piazza Santo Stefano, where on the walls you can still see some of the first design projects.

Mario Maserati, one of the founders' brothers, created the company logo inspired by Neptune's trident, which he precisely reproduced. Since 1926, when their first car 'Tipo 26' started to run, the trident proudly stands on every model.
Bologna Neptune's fountain with Palazzo Re Enzo [Photo: Matt Brennan]

5. There isn't just one Neptune

As Amelie's famous garden gnome travels the world, as the Neptune isn't just set in Bologna.
Bolognese travelers will be happy to find 3 copies of Neptune scattered around the world.

The first is in Brussels, next to where his original sculptor Giambologna was born, and was commissioned by the king of Belgium Leopold II.

The second is all covered with gold and is set in Batumi, Georgia, on the Black Sea.

The last copy is in California, on the beach between Long Beach and San Diego. A perfect location to dominate the Ocean.
[Credits: Thanks to Elena for her beautiful article in Italian that you can read on Artblitz]

Where to drink the best cocktails in Bologna

Bologna is spoiled with new bars and great young bartenders eager to show their finest cocktails.

What to do in Bologna with the rain

The best thing you can do in Bologna is to walk. But when it rains, it's nice to find some warm and beautiful places to rest and chill indoor.

Bologna with kids: 5 cool things to do

If you're planning a few days in Bologna with your children, here are my suggestions to make them WOOOOW like I did some years ago.

Home page icons22

Tasty newsletter

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and get a free culinary travel EBOOK about Modena


Subscribe


Comments