The Fountain of the Twelve Months and its legends

Fontana dei Dodici Mesi, Torino, Parco del Valentino - Fountain of the Twelve Months in Turin, Valentino Park

The Fountain of the Twelve Months in Turin’s Valentino Park is clearly an expression of the city’s pride, but its history is enveloped in the same aura of mystery that has always surrounded the Piedmontese capital city.

The monumental fountain was designed by architect Carlo Ceppi and built in 1898 for the fiftieth anniversary of the Albertine Statute, the constitution conceded to the Kingdom of Sardinia that would later be extended to the whole Kingdom of Italy until 1944.

1898 was also the year Turin hosted an important national exposition: the perfect occasion to unveil this majestic oval basin at the heart of the city, in its most beautiful park, surrounded by marble statues representing the twelve months and four seasons, as well as the rivers Po, Dora, Sangone, and Stura.

It was a way for the city to affirm its importance and beauty, even compared to the new State capital, Rome… but some believe the Fountain of the Twelve Months is also one of the many clues of the supernatural bond between Turin and Ancient Egypt – which the “experts” say started with prince Pa Rahotep, who in various translations was confused with the mythological Phaeton, who stole the Chariot of his father Helios (the Sun) and crashed into the river Po right where the city of Turin would later be founded.

In the 17th-century version of this story by historian Emanuele Thesauro, Pa Rahotep-Phaéton came to “the territory of Turin around 1523 BC with a large group of followers, looking for new lands.”

“According to Thesauro, Phaeton ‘founded this colony on the banks of the Po. He granted the city the particular honor – following auspices of Apis, adored in Egypt – of a name and insignia inspired by the bull-deity himself’” [“bull” is ‘toro’ in Italian, hence the name ‘Torino’ according to this theory – editor’s note].

“The Egyptian prince founded Eridania, Turin’s first nucleus, merging with autochthonous people in Liguria and surrounding territories, starting a new reign […]. Some say Phaeton fell and died drowning in the river, after a horse-drawn-chariot race, when he fell with his horses at the height of Valentino Park, where the so-called ‘Fountain of the Twelve Months’ now dominates the view” (translated from D. Tacchino, “Torino. Storia e misteri di una provincia magica”, Edizioni Mediterranee, Rome 2007).

A fountain of beauty and mystery.

©Luca Moglia, ©Gianni Rivetti, ©Renate Hildebrandt, ©Angela Dirani, ©Rossella De Amici, ©Carla, ©Simone Pacini, ©Giulia Buscemi, ©pierodemarchis

January 7, 2016

The Fountain of the Twelve Months and its legends

Turin, San Salvario
Valentino Park