Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

entry Mar 2007

he Monument Fountains of Naples

I was saddened by an article in the paper entitled "Monument Fountains: a treasure that is vanishing." In a modern big city today, public fountains are largely ornamental. Yet, until the advent of the modern Serino aqueduct system in the 1880s, most Neapolitans (that is, those who didn't have private cisterns in their courtyards that tapped into the older aqueduct) did what many people all over the world still do—walk to the nearest public fountain with some buckets and draw water. There were many smaller fountains as well as an ample number of what today are called "monument fountains"—big and beautiful, usually going back to the Spanish renovations in the city in the 1600s. Many of the smaller fountains have long since fallen into disuse and are eyesores, often victims of wanton vandalism and refuse dumping. (The "vanishing treasures" mentioned in the article were, indeed, two fountains recently vandalized beyond repair; they are not among those shown below.) The city has taken a bit of care (it could take more) to ensure that the larger monument fountains are kept up such that they add somewhat of an aesthetic touch to the city. The Naples water board in many cases has refurbished the water pipes and pumps such that water still flows. (Indeed, there is nothing worse than looking at a fountain with no water. Beyond aesthetics, the working fountains are good places to sit and cool off in the summer.)

Among the important fountains that have served the city —some for centuries— are:

The Fountain of Neptune (left)—
This is one of the most widely "travelled" fountains in the city. (Click here for a separate item. Yes, it has moved again.)

The Fountain of the Little King (right) —Dedicated to Charles II of Hapsburg, the fountain was built in 1670.

The Sebeto Fountain (left)—Named for the ancient river that flowed in Naples, the fountain was  designed by Cosimo Fanzago, the great 18th-century architect; the actual construction was completed by his son, Carlo. It was originally located in the Santa Lucia area but was moved to its current location at the port of Mergellina in 1938.

The Fountain of Santa Lucia (right)— Commissioned by viceroy Juan Alfonso Pimente at the beginning of the 17th century, the fountain was originally located on what is today via Cesario Console, the street that leads from the Royal palace to Santa Lucia. It was moved once, and then again in 1895 to its current location on the grounds of the Villa Comunale. It is by Michelangelo Naccherino (1550-1622).

"The Giant" (left)—Another fountain that gets around a lot. (See here for a separate item).

The Fountain of Orestes and Electra (right)—This is one of the many 19th-century fountains built on classical models. It was created in 1840 by Tommaso Solari and Angelo Violani. it is on the grounds of the Villa Comunale near the Dohrn Aquarium.

The Four Lions (left)—The basin was moved from the temple of Poseidon in Paestum; the statues of the lions are by Pietro Bianchi, designer of the church of San Francesco di Paola. The fountain was put into the Villa Comunale in 1825.

Parthenope (right)—Created by Onofrio Buccino in 1869. Moved to its current location in Piazza Sannazzaro in 1924 at the entrance to the new tunnel to Fuorigrotta. Parthenope was the mythological siren for whom the original city was named (before becoming "Neapolis"). The fountain was recently restored by the Brancaccio Association under the guidance of film director Lina Wertmüller.

The Triton Fountain (left)—a relatively recent (1934) addition to the fountains of Naples, created by Carlo De Veroli. It is in the public gardens at Piazza Cavour near the National Museum and shows Triton, the merman sea god spouting water from a conchhis "wreathed horn," as Wordsworth called it.

The "Carciofo" fountain (right)— meaning "artichoke," a nickname given to this fountain the moment it went up in the 1950s at the behest of major Achille Lauro. The nickname is derived from the appearance of the top of the fountain. It is located at Piazza Trieste e Trento (aka San Ferdinando) near the Royal Palace.

Also see, Twin Fountains - sort of. There are a number of others, but these are among the most prominent.
Also see, the Santa Caterina a Formiello fountain, restored in April 2015.

Also see,  "The Art of Science of Water" in this recent copy of Saudi Aramco World.

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