In the heart of Palermo's loveliest square, Piazza Pretoria, stands this magnificent fountain, the work of the Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani in 1554 and 1555. It overlooks the facades of the two churches on the square, Santa Caterina and San Giuseppe dei Teatini. This fountain is hardly subtle: It's adorned with depictions of allegories, animal heads, nymphs, monsters, ornamental staircases and balustrades, and, of course, gods and goddesses who make up an encyclopedia of Mount Olympus. One of the statuettes guarding the ramps is Ceres, the classical patroness of Sicily, depicted with a horn of plenty. The fountain is floodlit at night, making it a 24-hour sight.
Shocking, Outrageous, Disgraceful! -- When the Fontana Pretoria was first unveiled in 1575 at Piazza Pretoria, the outcry was so loud it could practically be heard across the city. Originally intended for a private Florentine villa and not a public square, it was uprooted from a garden and transplanted to Palermo as a showcase of its waterworks system, which rivaled Messina's. The fountain is adorned with nude figures galore. In time, Palermitans learned to live with this "outrage," although they forever afterward referred to it as Fontana della Vergogna, or "Fountain of Shame."