The Fountain of Shame

In the Piazza Pretoria stands this magnificent fountain. It is adorned with animal heads, gods and goddesses, monsters and nymphs. Ceres, the patroness of Sicily is also depicted with a horn of plenty.

I first came upon this fountain during an early morning walk through Old Palermo and was awestruck by the animals and nude statues stationed all around. It is truly an amazing sight and is even more wonderful to see at night when the fountain is lit by flood lights.

The fountain is the work of Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani in 1554 and 1555. When it was unveiled in 1575, the public outcry was so loud that it was said to be heard across the city of Palermo.

The fountain was originally meant for a private villa and not a public square. It overlooks two churches on the piazza, S. Caterina and S. Giuseppe de Teatini. The citizens of Palermo learned to live with the fountain but forever referred to it as Fontana della Vergogna or Fountain of Shame.

Many of the nude statues have had certain appendages chopped off over the years which give the fountain a little more history and character.

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