The Fountain of Shame, also known as the Pretoria Fountain, is one of Palermo’s most emblematic works of art, located in Piazza Pretoria, in the heart of the city’s historical centre. This fountain is one of Palermo’s main attractions and has an interesting history.
It was commissioned by the governor of the city, Pietro di Toledo, and was realised between 1554 and 1555 by the Florentine architect Francesco Camilliani. The fountain is a fine example of the Italian Renaissance and features a Baroque style with classical influences.
The fountain is known as the ‘Fountain of Shame’ because of the numerous statues decorating it, many of which depict naked mythological figures, with some rather explicit details. This depiction of naked and half-naked statues, some of which have been repainted to cover their private parts, led to much moral criticism in past centuries and gave the fountain its name. Initially, the fountain was commissioned to embellish a private villa, but was later donated to the city.
The Fountain of Shame is an imposing circular structure with a large central basin and numerous jets of water. The statues, sculpted by various artists of the time, are distributed in various planes of the fountain, creating a fascinating artistic composition.
The square around the fountain is a popular place for tourists and citizens of Palermo, and is often animated by cultural and social events. The Fountain of Shame is a testimony to Renaissance art in Sicily and represents an important landmark in the history and culture of the city.