Piazza Nettuno, Bologna
This is one of the must-see sights of Bologna, a draw for both tourists and locals. The former come to photograph the huge (in every sense!) depiction of the god, while for locals this is a regular meeting point. The fountain was commissioned by Cardinal Carlo Borromeo to honour his uncle who had been elected as pope (becoming Pope Pius IV). Perhaps ironically, that same pope would later be called on to give his approval to a statue that many felt was unbecoming, even rude (a close look at my photos should reveal why!). Possibly wanting to spare his nephew embarassment, the pope is said to have commented that it was “Alright for Bologna”, an acknowledgement too that this was considered even then a fairly liberal, cultural city.
An entire city block had to be demolished to make way for the new piazza, with the fountain being placed at the exact point where the cardo and the decumanus (the main streets of all Roman cities) once intersected. It was designed by the architect Tomassso Laurent, but Neptune himself was created by the sculptor Jean Boulogne (also known as Giambologna or Giovanni da Bologna). At his feet are cherubs who represent the four winds, and beneath these four sirens who represent the four continents known in the Renaissance world. These are named after the major rivers of these continents (the Danube in Europe, the Ganges in Asia, the Amazon in the Americas and the Nile in Africa). Like Neptune, all these bronze figures were the work of Giambologna. The sirens I gather are intended to spout water, but were dry when we visited and, from what I read, often are. This mattered little in terms of the overall effect of this hyperbolic statement of a fountain, and we enjoyed seeing it and soaking up the buzz of its surroundings every time we passed through the piazza.
And on one evening when we were in this part of the city we were treated to a special sight, that of the local flag-throwers or sbandieratori
Sala Borsa is the city multimedia and general information library which every day provides users of all ages with books, newspapers, magazines, videos, CD's along with cabled and wi-fi internet connections. Access to the library is free . It is place to go and find a history of Bologna, from its early days up to today. Biblioteca Sala Borsa is cultural and social heart of Bologna.
Sala Borsa was once home of the stock exchange and has also Roman ruins beneath which can be viewed through the glass panels in the floor.
The interior has beautiful balconnies and the ceilling.
The Palace was officially opened in 1564. it is located between Palazzo Comunale and Palazzo Re Enzo and connected to Piazza Maggiore. Right in front of it, in the square's centre, stands Fontana del Nettuno, one of the most famous works of Art of Bologna.
In the background, right in between the two palaces, stands Torre dell'Arengo rising 47 meters up in the sky. The tower was built in the 13th century and it almost seems that it sit on the porticos of Voltone of Palazzo del Podesta. In the mid of the 15th century the tower housed a very heavy bell called Campanazzo.
“For Bologna it is alright.” — Pope Pius IV (1499–1565)
GRANTING PERMISSION The Holy Father is referring to the bulging muscle mass that is Giambologna’s Neptune at what is one of Bologna’s signature sights, la Fontana di Nettuno.
Born in Douai, Flanders, now part of France, Jean Boulogne (1529-1608) was concerned that his creation would not meet with the approval of the man it was meant to honor. Future saint, Charles Cardinal Borromeo, the Papal Legate in Bologna, commssioned the fountain to celebrate the 1559 election of his uncle, Giovanni Angelo Medici as Pope Pius IV. Tommaso Laureti designed the fountain, completed in 1565; Nettuno was added two years later.
When Pius gave his approval he acknowledged the liberal outlook on life for which Bologna has long been known.
The fountain gives its name to Piazza Nettuno, which borders Piazza Maggiore and Palazzo Comunale.
One of the symbols of Bologna, the giant statue of the god Neptune, Nettuno in Italian, crowns a fountain of sculptures in the centre of Piazza del Nettuno. Completed in 1567, the fountain was commissioned by Cardinal Carlo Borromeo who assigned the project to the architect Tommaso Laureti. However, it was the sculptor Jean Boulogne (known as Giambologna or Giovanni da Bologna), famous for the sculpture of the Rape of the Sabine Women in Florence, who created the celebrated bronze statue of Nettuno to top Laureti's design. Locally referred to as il Gigante (the Giant), the god Neptune stands majestically above delightful sculptures of cherubs and nereids with four water spouts representing the major rivers of four continents.
Resembling a defensive castle, il Palazzo Re Enzo dominates Piazza del Nettuno. It is adjacent to Palazzo del Podestà, and was in fact built in 1245 as its extension and first called Palatium Novum, i.e. "New Palace". However, shortly after its construction, Enzo of Sardinia, son of Emperor Frederick II, was captured by the Guelphs and imprisoned within the palace, so thereafter the palace became known by his name. In 1259, the tower, Torre dell'Arengo, was erected above Voltone del Podestà, a vaulted passageway between the two palaces. The tower carries the largest bell in Bologna, once used to summon the population during major events.
Adjacent to Palazzo del Podesta on Piazza del Nettuno is Palazzo del Re Enzo, another medieval palace built in the 13th century. It is named after King Enzo, the illegitimate son of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (he wasn't holy after all!). Papal forces held King Enzo in this palace between 1249-1272. Closed to the public, the only option available to tourists it to take pictures of the palace from the outside, which makes for a fitting background to the Fontana di Nettuno.
Fontana di Nettuno is the centerpiece at the centro storico's (historical center) Piazza di Nettuno. Sculpted by Giambologna in 1566, it is a vivid bronze representation of one of Roman mythology's most artistically portrayed gods. Beneath the water god's feet are four cherubs representing the winds and at the base, four shapely sirens with water flowing from their breasts.
More than just a tourist attraction and an obvious subject for shutter-happy tourists, the fountain is a gathering point for many social and political events in Bologna, long considered one of Italy's most political cities (former PM Prodi hails from the city). At the time of my visit, there was a massive student protest which was well-covered by local and national media.
The old stock exchange sat empty and unused for decades but has now been totally transformed into Sala Borsa, a new multimedia library in the centre of Bologna. The main floor of which is large transparent tiles that enable you to see archaological ruins found beneath the building (see other photo).
There are several small stores and cafe's inside and its well worth a look just to be amazed at that incredible floor. There are more than 209,000 volumes, 54,000 of which are for children and teenagers; they are placed on open shelves in subject order.
Monday 2.30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
The beautiful centre of Bologna is formed by Piazza Maggiore, the adjoining Piazza Nettuno with its Fontana di Nettuno - Neptune's fountain - and the Piazza Porta Ravegnana, with its leaning towers rivalling Pisa.
Piazza Nettuno is so named for the large fountain in the centre of the square with a large statue of Neptune (Nettuno in Italian). The bronze statue of the God of the Sea was completed by Laureti, while the other broze statues are all thanks to Giambologna and date from 1566. The Piazza is remarkable not just for the statue or for the imposing architecture of Palazzo di Re Enzo and the Palazzo Comunale, but also because of the throngs of people that gather here. Bologna is a student city, so you should expect to find large groups of young people wherever you go in the centre, but Piazza Nettuno is a particularly favourite spot for meeting before going out. I met my friends there when I arrived in Bologna at night and the Piazza was so busy we had to phone each other to find out exactly where the other person was. If you want to photograph the square, the surrounding buildings and the fountain, its advisable to come here in the morning, when its relatively quiet. Also, historic recreations and city fairs often take place here (the town hall is right next to the Piazza) so don't be surprised if you suddenly find yourself among people in Renaissance dress.
Adjoining Piazza Maggiore is the smaller Piazza Nettuno. The centrepiece of the square is the Fontana del Nettuno - a fountain featuring a bronze statue of Neptune, God of the Sea. The fountain was constructed in the mid-16th century, and along with Neptune there are four cherubs, and four mermaid-looking creatures who have water spouting forth from their breasts.
On the eastern side of the square is the Palazzo del Re Enzo. It was named after King Enzo from Sicily, who was banished to the palazzo for 20 years in the 13th century. These days the palace is only open to the public when it is used for exhibitions.
Piazza del Nettuno and Piazza Maggiore are seen as the heart of Bologna. These two main squares, which are conneceted with eachother without any visible border, have many historic buildings around them. It is the central place for locals to meet and also a popular place for tourists to spend some time. In the center of Piazza Nettuno, you will find Neptune's fountain. It was designed in 1563 by Tomassso Laurent and finished three years later. Neptune, god of the seas, stands in the middle of it. Four angels around him represent the four winds while the water spouting sirens represent the four continents known in the renaissance world. They are named after the big streams on these continents (Danuba, Ganges, Amazon and Nile). All these bronze figures are the work of Giambologna.
By the way, the trident of this Neptune sculpture is excatly the same as the one in the logo of Bologna's well-known car manufacturer Maserati.
The Palace of Re Enzo is one of many interesting historical buildings you will find at the Piazza Nettuno and Piazza Maggiore. The construction of this medieval palace began in 1245. It consists of dark brickstones and was built in gothic style.
Re Enzo, the italian nickname for Heinrich of Sardinia, was king of Sardinia from 1242 to 1272. He was captured by the Bolognans in a war in 1245 and died in prison. The palace where he was held in prison, was once named palazzo nuovo, but never lost its nickname given after his famous prisoner.
Sitting in the middle of Piazza Nettuno is the famous Neptune fountain. The statue in the middle of the fountain is commonly known in Bologna as the ”Giant“ and it represents Neptune appeasing the rage of the sea. The fountain was designed in 1566 by Tommaso Laureti and is decorated with magnificent bronze figures of dolphins and mermaids by Giambologna.