The Fountain of Neptune

  • Piazza della Signoria, 50122 Firenze FI, Italia


icon rules
icon time machine
icon place marker
Fontane, Piazze e Ponti
icon translator
Hosted in


Piazza della Signoria's most impressive monument, and the square's centerpiece, is the Fonte di Piazza, created by Bartolomeo Ammanati to celebrate the wedding of Francesco de' Medici, son of Cosimo I, to Princess Johanna of Austria in 1565. Because the marriage signified the Medici's rise into the ranks of Europe's great ruling houses – Francesco was to receive the title of Grand Duke – the already begun fountain suddenly became a much larger project and had to be finished in a hurry. So Ammanati and his assistants worked feverishly to make this the largest fountain in Florence, with Neptune surrounded by four horses and three tritons. They may have been in too much of a hurry, since when it was finished in 1575, the Florentines were heard to jeer "Ammanato, che bel marmo hai rovinato" – what lovely marble you've ruined, Ammanato! Otherwise known as “the White Giant,” this snow-white statue emerges from piazza della Signoria, a figure that's impossible to miss when entering the piazza. The incredible figure of Neptune, sculpted from white Carrara marble, is placed on a central pedestal in the octagonal basin, a space further decorated with statues of Scylla and Charybdis. The great God of the sea is said to resemble Cosimo I de’ Medici; the monument was indeed the umpteenth representation of the Medici family's greatness, that is, an allusion to the city’s maritime dominion. On the corner of the basin you’ll find a few groups of marine deities (Thetis, Doris, Oceanus and Nereus), each of which is accompanied by a procession of bronze nymphs, satyrs and fawns made by Giambologna, masterpieces that reflect the sophisticated development of Mannerism in Florence.

image map
footer bg