The monumental 17th-century Fontana del Gigante (Fountain of the Giant) is a fine piece of Mannerist art featuring a trio of arches. Adorned with heraldic symbols and marine animals, it stands on the seafront near Castel dell’Ovo. It’s the fourth location for the fountain, which has moved all over Naples in its lifetime.
In the early 17th century, the newly built Fontana del Gigante occupied a spot in Naples’ main square (today’s Piazza del Plebiscito), near the Royal Palace. It took its name from a nearby large statue, Il Gigante (The Giant), which was based on a Roman-era bust of Jupiter. The statue stood at the start of the road that connects the square to the sea. Il Gigante was depicted in various paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, with the fountain appearing nearby.
As part of restoration works in the area, Il Gigante was removed in 1807 and the fountain taken out in 1815. For over 70 years, Fontana del Gigante remained in storage. Finally, in 1882, the fountain was installed near the Palazzo dell’Immacolatella, close to the Port of Naples. Its stay was brief: just four years later, during a port expansion, Fontana del Gigante was removed again.
The third time is often a charm. Not so in this case. In 1889, the itinerant fountain found yet another new home inside Villa del Popolo, a park near the port area. The neighborhood soon became a degraded area surrounded by warehouses, and was deemed unfit to host such a beautiful piece of art.
In 1906, Fontana del Gigante moved to its final location on the city’s waterfront near Castel dell’Ovo, in a scenic area that overlooks the Gulf of Naples. It’s an appropriately calm resting place for a well-traveled fountain.