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Commissioned in 1563 by Pope Pius IV, it was built by the architect Tommaso Laureti. The sculptor Giambologna created the bronze statue of the god of the sea, which stands at 3.40 meters tall leading to its nickname of The Giant by the people of Bologna.
It is located in Piazza del Nettuno, adjacent to Piazza Maggiore, in the city center.
It is a symmetrical structure, with a vertical look to the whole piece with different groups of figures (dolphins, mermaids, cherubs, coats of arms) surrounding the main figure of Neptune. Spring water gushes from the 38 nozzles incorporated into the bronze figures, a precious asset immediately used by the people of Bologna for their needs.
It is also famous because the architect designed the work with perfect proportions to make sure that when you look at the statue from a particular angle the thumb of the left hand alludes to an erect phallus coinciding with the lower abdomen.
Today it is one of Bologna’s iconic monuments and symbolizes its traditions. It seems to bring students good luck if they go around the fountain twice before each exam.
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