Fontana Maggiore

Watch water gushing from a beautifully preserved 13th-century fountain that celebrates Perugia’s achievements and independence.

Linger by the Fontana Maggiore, a two-tiered fountain in the heart of Perugia, to fully appreciate the artistic detail of the landmark. The fountain is a symbol of Perugia’s status as a free city and an emblem of its great successes throughout history. Rest in the Piazza IV Novembre and watch the fountain water flow over beautiful, 13th-century basins.

Study the stone reliefs carved by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, the father and son who built the fountain between 1275 and 1278. The fountain was created to celebrate the construction of the aqueduct that carried spring water into the city. Many of the decorations represent the achievements and values of mankind.

Step back to appreciate the artful shape of the fountain and notice how the faded pink-and-white-tiers are reminiscent of a wedding cake. Two polygonal stone basins encircle a bronze statue of three nymphs holding an amphora that spouts water. Take photos of the fountain, with the historic buildings of Piazza IV Novembre framing the scene.

Examine the intricate details on each level of the fountain. The lower basin has 50 individual reliefs carved out of marble. Look for images that depict the creation and fall of man, as well as other biblical figures such as Goliath and Samson. Other carvings celebrate the disciplines of liberal arts and philosophy and depict the founding of Rome.

The middle basin is decorated with 24 statues of famous figures. Find the names beneath each statue to identify characters such as King David and John the Baptist. The basin’s sequence of imagery begins with the statue of St. Peter and ends with the allegorical figure of Victory.

While in the piazza, visit the other historical sites surrounding the fountain. Wander through the National Gallery of Umbria, which is housed in the Palazzo dei Priori. Admire the frescoes in the 15th-century Cathedral of St. Lorenzo.

The Fontana Maggiore is located in Piazza IV Novembre in the heart of Perugia’s old town. Visit it for free while walking around the historic university town.

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