Fonte Gaia in Piazza del Campo
If you are planning a trip to Siena, do not miss the fantastic Fonte Gaia, one of the most Italian fountains located in Piazza del Campo.
It was in Piazza del Campo, in 1346, that for the first time the water of a spring began to gush, which, following the amazement and the joy of the Sienese, was called “Gaia”.
This is because a monumental fountain in the main square of Siena was considered a true symbol of wealth and power.
With its grandiose structure, which resembles an imposing altar, the Fonte Gaia towers over Piazza del Campo, the hub of city life and a picturesque receptacle of tourists.
In the same way as other sources of Siena territory, Fonte Gaia uses a series of underground pipelines dug in the medieval period.
With the aim of increasingly encouraging the prestige of an important city like Siena, Fonte Gaia was decorated in 1409 with multiple sculptures entrusted to the inspiration of Jacopo della Quercia, considered one of the most fashionable artists of the moment.
The works lasted til 1419 due to the fact that the Sienese sculptor was busy at the same time also in Lucca for the realization of a series of sculptures destined to the chapel of the Trenta family in San Frediano.
This work by Jacopo della Quercia has been considered for centuries one of the most shining examples of masterpieces of the school of Italian sculpture.
Currently in Piazza del Campo you can admire a nineteenth-century copy of the Fonte Gaia, while the original, restored to its splendor with an important restoration in the nineteenth century, which is kept in the Museum Complex of Santa Maria della Scala located in Piazza Duomo.
The original work of Jacopo della Quercia included a traditional rectangular basin, with three sides occupied by bas-relief sculptures.
On the long side the Madonna and Child, the patron saint of the city, was sculpted, flanked by the 6 allegories of the Virtues, on which the Good Government was founded: Faith, Charity, Fortitude, Patience, Temperance, Wisdom and Justice.
Instead, on the short sides Jacopo della Quercia depicted the Creation of Adam and the Expulsion from Eden, while on the front pillars were placed the statues of Rhea Silvia and Acca Larenzia, in memory of the mythical Roman origins of the Sienese city.
Unfortunately, this beautiful fountain over the centuries began to seriously deteriorate, a bit because of the hectic daily life that unfolded in Piazza del Campo and a little for the weak material employed.
The Palio di Siena unintentionally contributed to determining the deterioration of the Fonte Gaia.
In fact, back in 1743, to better see the races of the horses, a spectator climbed on the sculpture of Rhea Silvia and sent her in a thousand pieces, losing her own life.
In any case, the main problem of the degradation of the Fonte Gaia was the use of Montagnola Senese marble, a fabulous stone that allowed a breathtaking chromatism but at the same time proved to be a weak structure and totally unsuitable for bad weather.
For this reason in 1859 the Fonte Gaia by Jacopo della Quercia was replaced with a much more resistant copy made of Carrara marble, this time completed by the illustrious Sienese sculptor Tito Sarrocchi.
This reproduction of the monument was officially inaugurated only ten years later, in 1869, and was protected by a gate designed by the architect Giuseppe Partini, still existing today.
The old source in 1904 was removed and placed in a loggia of the Palazzo Pubblico, the famous Loggia dei Nove, although this transfer did not prevent the arrest of the degradation.
The decision to bring the original of Jacopo della Quercia back to its former glory was taken in 1989 and the restoration work, which lasted about twenty years, was finally completed.
The original restored of the Fonte Gaia is currently exhibited, as mentioned, inside the Museum Complex of Santa Maria della Scala.
If you wish to see Fonte Gaia with the maximum comfort you should stay in a hotel in Siena near Piazza del Campo.
Il Minerva is a 3-star hotel in Siena near Piazza del Campo, reachable in a short walk.
It is also extremely convenient because it has an indoor garage with 20 parkings and wonderful rooms with a panoramic view of the city.
Visit the website by clicking on the top and if you book directly you will always guarantee the lowest price.