FOUNTAIN OF NEPTUNE
After two years of meticulous, complex restoration work, the Fountain of Neptune in Piazza della Signoria is unveiled to the public in all its ancient glory, and Florence’s most famous fountain is more triumphant than before now that its water supply system has been rebuilt to feed water to the majestic jets that, for the first time in history, will spray the way Bartolomeo Ammannati, the fountain’s designer, dreamed they would.
The restoration of one of Florence’s most well‐known and well‐loved monuments ‐ presented 500 years after the birth of Cosimo I (who commissioned the masterpiece) and Caterina de’ Medici ‐ cost €1.5 million, financed by Salvatore Ferragamo through a tax‐deductible donation for the arts as part of the Italian government’s “Art Bonus” program.
Divided into three sections, the work began in February 2017 and initially hid from view the statue of Il Biancone – The White Giant – as Ammannati’s Neptune is affectionately called. Guided tours of the worksite were offered along a protected path, allowing about 2,000 people from 90 different countries to see the various stages of work. The project included the complete reconstruction of the fountain’s water supply system, which had broken repeatedly and functioned so poorly in recent years that only now can it be considered completely in line with Ammannati’s original designs.
“We are finally giving the city back one of its most well‐loved symbols,” announced the Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella. “Completely restored, Ammannati’s fountain is truly beautiful and awe‐inspiring. We are delighted that everyone may admire the fountain once again and that it has been brought back to life with new, choreographic jets of water harnessing all the force that the sculptor imagined and destined to enchant visitors. We would like to thank Ferragamo, which has shown great insight and sensitivity in partnering with us for this project in a genuine act of love for our city, and to Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino for having planned an unveiling celebration worthy of Florence.”
Ferruccio Ferragamo, Chairman of the Salvatore Ferragamo Group, added, “It has been a privilege for our company to support this important restoration project and see this work of art restored in its full splendour to Florence, its residents and the many travellers from around the world who visit the Tuscan capital every year. This is the result of a virtuous partnership between the public and private sectors and it is our family’s way of thanking the city and upholding the close relationship that my mother and father forged with it. This project is a tangible expression of our gratitude to Florence.”
To celebrate the unveiling of the restored fountain, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino has planned a performance held on 25 March at 8:30 pm, “E nel marmo e nel bronzo mise acqua e fuoco” (Marble and fire in water and bronze), inspired by the spirit of Renaissance and Baroque festivals reinterpreted in a contemporary light, with the use of modern technologies like projections, lights and sounds. Giovanni Vitali wrote the text and play, Alessandro Riccio adapted them for the theatre and Saverio Santoliquido created the scenes set to music by Jean‐Baptiste Lully and Georg Friedrich Händel. The fountain’s history is told through a theatrical performance and a series of abstract scenes presenting various forms of acrobatics: aerial silks and an aerial hoop, the trapeze and contortionism (curated by Fondazione Cirko Vertigo). It begins with an explanation of the various social, political and historical reasons behind Cosimo I de’ Medici’s decision to build the fountain in Piazza del Duca, describes the challenges faced in obtaining a block of white marble from the Apuan Alps and the bitter disputes among Florentine artists, most notably between Bartolomeo Ammannati and Benvenuto Cellini, and ends with the crucial role that the Duchess Eleanor of Toledo, Cosimo’s consort played in the unfolding of events.
“We are thrilled to pay tribute to the unveiling of Ammannati’s fountain restored to its original splendour with a spectacular performance created by Maggio that evokes, with contemporary, theatrical appeal, the spirit of Renaissance and Baroque festivals,” announced Cristiano Chiarot, Superintendent of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. “One of our theatre’s missions is to culturally enrich important events in the life of the city. This is an emblematic occasion in which a symbol of Florence is restored to the city through a virtuous public/private partnership and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino had to be a part of it.”
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