Fountain of Hercules in Noto

Fountain of Hercules in Noto

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 Piazza XVI maggio - Noto (SR)

The Fountain of Hercules is the central fulcrum of a small square in Noto dedicated to the Garibaldi revolutionaries of the 16th May 1860, but commonly known as Piazzetta Ercole. In this place, before 1851, the year in which the steep rocky bank was removed with the idea of ​​building the city theater, there was the churchyard of the Church of San Domenico.
The fountain, built in 1757 by the Catania sculptor Orlando , consists of a polylobed square tank from which a cylindrical stem departs. The shaft has, in the upper half, some figures in bas-relief of cherubs resting on tritons that hold basins with the head and left hand. On these rest some lion's mouths from which the flow of water gushes, dominated by the statue, in Carrara marble, of Hercules.
The hero of Roman mythology, represented in a moment of rest after the bloody killing of the Lion Nemeo, is caught with his right arm outstretched, intent on quenching his thirst. The left arm, on the other hand, has undergone a clear change over the course of history. In 1838 it was decided, seeing in Hercules the symbol of the strength and genius of the city, to replace the club with which Hercules had killed the lion, with the more reassuring and harmless coat of arms of Noto. The statue was thus deprived of the left arm and of the dying lion but, following this adaptation, the leg of the right leg of the lion remained visible which could not be removed, whose claws, came to fall at the groin level. , gave rise to some colorful reveries.
The monument has a strong symbolic value: in the night between 15 and 16 May 1860, some anti-Bourbon youths from Noto hoisted them into the arms of the hero the first tricolor flag, emblem of the Garibaldi revolution, with the inscription: "Death to whoever touches this banner".
At the sides of the fountain, there are two monuments of famous people of the city: the one in white marble of the poet Mariannina Coffa ; the bronze one, by the jurist, prince of the forum and statesman Matteo Raeli.

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