A masterpiece of Mannerism
The fountain has an elliptical plan, with a circumference of about 133 metres and a height of 12.90 metres. On the first level, it is surrounded by elegant balustrades, interrupted by four large accesses, each delimited by a pair of colossal male and female half-figures. On the second level, divided up by four flights of steps, there are four fish ponds, each with six niches decorated with small heads of animals and monsters, with water spouting from their nostrils... a scenographic bestiary that ranges from bucolic sheep to a more exotic rhinoceros. At the border of each fish pond, personifications of the city’s four ancient rivers, the Papireto, the Gabriele, the Maredolce and the Oreto, recline in front of the gushing basins flanked by Tritons, Nereids and Sirens. At the corners of the balustrades enclosing each of the four flights of steps, there are sixteen statues representing various mythological figures. Inside the fountain there are statues of the gods of Olympus and the deities of pleasure and abundance. The complex culminates in a large pool, from which two marine monsters emerge bearing a first basin with four marble geese and a group of sea horses, dolphins and sirens beneath a second basin. In the middle of this there are four winged cupids supporting the final basin, surmounted by a cherub holding a cornucopia from which it pours a stream of water.