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Market Square Fountain
It is the most scenic fountain in the city, known by the Spoleto people simply as Fonte di Piazza.
Piazza del Mercato, once called Piazza del Foro, a center of trade and commerce in Roman times, is still today the heart of the historic center. On the site already existed in the thirteenth century an imposing fountain of which no description or reproduction remains, but only a document attesting various repairs in 1362 at the expense of the municipality. Another was built in 1430 in the space opposite the current one by the stone masters Giovanni Bono di Todi and Giacomo di Scarpigliolo from Spoleto, thanks to the contribution of the Martani family. A celebratory epigraph placed to adorn the source, which was lost but copied and handed down by Bracceschi, mentioned only the first artist. The cost of the work was six hundred florins; the inauguration took place in August 1433 on the occasion of the visit to the city by the Emperor Sigismund of Bohemia. Only about twenty years later, in 1456, the basin was dismantled and the twelve slabs that formed it had been used for the construction of another fountain not far away, the one called "dei Maccabei". We do not know what the Fonte di Piazza looked like at that time, but it is very likely that it was equally monumental; in April 2017, the foundations were found during the repaving of the square.
Some more information came from the Spoleto historian Achille Sansi who wrote in 1879:
- in 1512 the fountain was "revived with more water" thanks to improvements made in the pipes;
- in 1580 an impregnable young bandit who used to attack and plunder citizens and homes, a certain Petrino Leoncilli, exhibited on the fountain, with intimidating and defiant intentions, the heads that he had cut off from all his opponents with unbridled atrocities, together with a mob of loyal accomplices.
On the square, in front of the fountain, there was a Romanesque church dedicated to San Donato; of it only the arches of the spans along Via dei Duchi remain, occupied by shops with a medieval appearance, but dating back to the second half of the sixteenth century. The church was then abandoned and fell into disrepair. Its dilapidated facade was used as a support and support for an "exhibition of the hours", ie a public clock. Above the quadrant in 1626 a heavily decorated pediment was raised, made in Rome to a design by Carlo Maderno, in honor of the Barberini family and in particular of Pope Urban VIII, who had been bishop of Spoleto from 1608 to 1617. Up to that moment only a bronze bust was dedicated to him, the work of Bernini, placed inside the Cathedral. When the fountain opposite was dismantled and dispersed, a new one was built on the same wall as the "Mostra delle hore", between 1746 and 1748, by the Roman architect Costantino Fiaschetti who conceived a scenographic facade almost entirely in travertine, according to the taste Roman of water exhibits. In honor of the illustrious pope he kept the seventeenth-century pediment to which he added four coats of arms: the first of Pope Urban VIII, followed by those of Cardinals Francesco and Antonio Barberini, and lastly the coat of arms of the family.
The two lateral masks and the shelf within the central arch were sculpted by skilled Roman stonemasons; in the side niches there were two painted wooden statues sculpted by Francesco Appiani, probably long since destroyed. A long Latin hagiographic inscription dedicated to the pope was also added, dictated by Giovanni Ciampoli:
“To Urban VIII, the highest excellent pontiff, for whom the votes of all and the suffrages of his value claimed the apostolic principality; that wisdom in the affairs of government and in the literary arts for the protection of justice and the glory of religion nourishes with celestial inspirations; to the Barberini family who, illustrating its members with the splendors of Etruscan pride and educating them to the fulfillment of Christian virtues, generated such a great pontiff to the sacrosanct church, to the apostolic college three cardinals, to the Roman army three leaders: the Senate and the Spoleto people, who both in civil and ecclesiastical government have happily experienced the liberality of the Barberini family, placed this monument destined to last with gratitude. "
The result of the eighteenth-century reconstruction is a jumble of styles: a pompous Baroque monument, full of festoons, torches and curled shelves in the upper part, and a faηade with rigorous lines, divided by trabeated pilasters in a single order, in the lower part. Since the fifteenth century the basin was used to wash and display fish for sale, especially during Lent; the business was permanently moved in the early nineteenth century.
In 1968, on the occasion of the Festival of Two Worlds, the American artists Christo Vladimirov Yavachev and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, more simply known by the name of Christo, appreciated for their spectacular installations centered on the "wrapping" technique, they wrapped the fountain with white nylon sheets which remained covered for the duration of the festival. In 1977 the upper part of the faηade was subjected to consolidation works thanks to the contribution of the Amici di Spoleto Association and the Italian Mobil Oil.
In June 2015, after about 150 years from the last intervention, the clock was restored that had become illegible over the years; the ancient gold bath of the hands has emerged again.SEE WS

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Additional Photos by Silvio Sorcini (Silvio1953) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 18020 W: 130 N: 37967] (205793)
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