Fountain of Neptune in Messina
The Neptune Fountain of Messina is a monumental fountain of the city of Messina. It is the work of the Tuscan sculptor Montorsoli who was commissioned by the Messina Senate in 1557 after seeing the excellent work done with the Orion fountain.
The fountain represents the god of the sea Neptune who, in order to calm the turbulent waters of the strait, caused by the legendary monsters Scylla and Charybdis, holds the latter in chains.
The fountain is made up of a large circular basin which contains some in turn another octagonal shape. On the rim, four other oval-shaped external pools fit into the corners, collecting water from the masks. The whole work is covered with inscriptions, such as the one with the name of the author, the senators and the viceroys. From the center of the basin, which rests on a large quadrangular stepped base decorated with bas-relief panels with depictions of tridents, shells and dolphins, a pedestal rises which houses four hydrophoric sea horses at the corners and is decorated with coats of arms, in bas-relief, Emperor Charles V. In the second basin different coats of arms are carved on the sides, such as the great eagles symbol of Spain, the imperial coat of arms placed on the chest and the Crusader shields, coat of arms of the city of Messina. In the center stands majestic Neptune, imperturbable and austere, with his right hand stretched forward and with a trident in his left, with his gaze lost in the infinity of the horizon. At his feet a dolphin; below, instead, four sea horses and Scylla who appears to be wrapped around the waist by screaming heads to personify even more the pain of the chains and Charybdis with loose hair and horrified gaze.
In ancient times the fountain was located close to the port. Miraculously escaped the destructive fury of the 1908 earthquake, it was moved in 1934 to Piazza Unità d’Italia. During the anti-Bourbon revolt the statue of Scilla was damaged and replaced with a copy made by Letterio Subba in 1858, and the statue of Neptune was also replaced by a faithful nineteenth-century reproduction by Gregorio Zappalà from 1856. The two original statues are kept in the Regional Museum of Messina.