Messina’s Fountain of Neptune: beauty in the face of adversity
Like many other fountains, the one dedicated to Neptune in Messina had a difficult beginning.
The marble monument was created in 1557 by Florentine sculptor Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli (1507-1563), a collaborator of Michelangelo’s (as the style of the group sculpture evidently confirms). At first, the fountain was placed near the harbor, on the wide curve that would soon welcome Simone Gullì’s famous Baroque “Palazzata”, a massive building that went destroyed in the 1783 earthquake.
The statue of Neptune was meant to symbolize Messina’s power over nature’s hostility – represented by the two marine monsters subdued by the god, Scylla and Charybdis – and faced away from the sea. Some cynical observers interpreted his position as a sign of disrespect for the neighboring people in Calabria (in fact, Neptune is facing Messina to endow the city with his gifts from the sea).
In 1934 – after a series of war damages resulted in the replacement of the original statues with replicas – the fountain moved where you can see it today, and rotated a full 180 degrees in order to have the god look out at the sea.
Just another case of beauty overcoming any obstacle before it.