The Fountain of Shame

May 28, 2008 / Art & Archaeology
As you’re wandering around the heart of Palermo, arancino in hand perhaps, or between granita breaks, you will stumble upon Piazza Pretoria, one of Italy’s most beautiful squares . . . and home to one of the world’s most controversial fountains.

La Fontana della Vergogna, The Fountain of Shame, is famous not only for its beauty but also its unique history; it is a work by Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani and Michelangelo Naccherino completed in 1555, but for all its loveliness, it wasn’t warmly received in Palermo.

The fountain was originally intended for the private villa of the Viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo in Tuscany, where perhaps the 16 (nude) representations of gods and goddesses would have been more appropriate.

Let’s just say it didn’t go over so well in the middle of Palermo in the 16th century, nestled among all those churches. Any surprise then the name it was given? To 21st century eyes, however, La Fontana della Vergogna is simply breathtaking.


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

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