Giambologna’s 16th-century Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno), also known as Il Zigànt, or The Giant, is one of the most famous landmarks in Bologna. A bronze Neptune stands watch from atop the ornate Renaissance fountain in Piazza Maggiore, a popular and picturesque gathering spot for locals and visitors.
Sitting in the center of the side of Piazza Maggiore known as Piazza del Nettuno, this marble-and-bronze fountain features a muscular statue of Neptune holding aloft a trident—the inspiration for the logo of the Maserati car manufacturer, which was founded in Bologna—set on a base with circular pools, four spouting sirens representing the four continents, and four cherubs representing the winds. The Fountain of Neptune is a top sight in city walking or bike tours that include Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square and home to the massive Basilica di San Petronio. Bologna is also known for its excellent cuisine, so opt for a food tour if you’d like to combine sightseeing with samples of local dishes.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Piazza Maggiore is pedestrian only, so children can explore without the danger of traffic.
- Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes if joining a bike or walking tour.
- The square and fountain are wheelchair accessible.
- Cafés and restaurants line the square around the fountain, so you can stop for a snack or meal.
How to Get There
The Fountain of Neptune is located in Piazza Maggiore, the main square in Bologna’s historic center. You can easily reach the square on foot from the Bologna Centrale train station or the most important attractions in the city center.
When to Get There
Although it’s lovely during the day, the fountain is particularly beautiful at night, when it’s dramatically illuminated along with the basilica and palaces lining the square.
Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s Beating Heart
In addition to the Fountain of Neptune, Piazza Maggiore is home to the Basilica di San Petronio and a number of historic porticoed palaces, now filled with bustling restaurant and cafés. Experience Bologna’s vibrant atmosphere with a visit to the square to linger with locals and students over lunch or afternoon drinks.