install theme

Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno)

Because of its size, the statue of Neptune is called “il Gigante” (the Giant), or “al Żigànt” in Bolognese dialect. It was built in 1566 according to the inscription at the base of the fountain, “to serve the people”; namely, to beautify the Piazza Maggiore.

Just steps from the city’s political core, the fountain was an immediate hit with the vegetable sellers, launderers, and artisans — so much so that a punishment of 50 lashes was given to women and children caught using it for bathing, while the punishment for men was “ (a torturous and crippling procedure involving tying the arms behind the back and cranking up on them to the point of dislocation).

It is said that the statue’s famous creator, Giambologna (Jean Boulogne) wanted to fashion Neptune with larger genitalia but naturally met with opposition from the Church. However, the sculptor would not be swayed: he designed the statue so that from a particular angle the thumb of the outstretched left hand lines up with the groin area, making it look like an erect penis. According to the prelates, the women of Bologna were so disturbed by the sight that the Church had to put bronze pants on the statue. Actually, the entire fountain has a strongly erotic quality: just take a look at the voluptuous nymphs spraying their breasts with water!

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