Fontana di Nettuno

One of the most famous landmarks of Bologna is called Il Gigante (The Giant) or the Fontana di Nettuno ( Fountain of Neptune).  The bronze and stone statue of the Roman God towers over the Piazza named after him, lording over the water sprouting from the basin beneath him.  It is credited as an early work of Giambologna in the 16th century.  It was part of the beautification project of Piazza Maggiore by the then Cardinal of the city, Charles Borromeo.

It is said that Giambologna originally wanted the Roman God to display a larger genitalia but was prohibited by the church. You could just imagine their dread at the sight of a large male organ facing the Basilica di San Petronio!  Giambologna, however, managed to pull some of his artistic tricks as the left thumb of the statue, at certain times of the day, would line up to the groin area extending its length.  And there are also the nymphs underneath Neptune who are ”lactating” waters with their voluptuous breasts.  In earlier times, the women of Bologna are said to find the images so disturbing that they suggested clothing the statue.

The lactating nymphs in the Fontana di Nettuno

A post shared by Elisha Hidalgo (@ig_elisha) on

One superstition for students is to run two counter-clockwise laps around the fountain so they can pass a difficult exam.

The trident symbol in the logo of Maserati, automobile company originally from Bologna, is inspired by this landmark.


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