Boboli Gardens are Florence’s most famous urban park. In this article we analyze Boboli’s most famous spouting fountain—Stoldo Lorenzi’s bronze of Neptune clutching his three-pronged trident.
Irreverently known by locals as “The Fountain of the Fork,” this water feature was considered the central point of the gardens.
The Fountain of the Fork is dubbed this way by the Florentines, because of their irreverent affection. Its real name is the Fountain of Neptune, and it is located in the Basin of Neptune in the Boboli Gardens.
The basin is situated midway between the Pitti Palace and the Forte di Belvedere, with the Viottolone leading toward Porta Romana on the right.
The bronze Mannerist statue in the center of the basin represents Neptune wielding his trident, the “fork” for Florentines.
The fountain was created in 1565 by sculptor Stoldo Lorenzi for Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, and a nursery once surrounded it. In the eighteenth century, the nearby area was renovated with the creation of the Basin of Neptune, which had to collect the irrigation water around the garden.
Perhaps the nickname chosen by the Florentines for the famous fountain is also a sign of pride: according to tradition, the modern four-pronged fork was born in Florence in the fifteenth century, and Catherine de’ Medici brought it to the French court, from where it spread throughout Europe.
The location of the Basin of Neptune and the Fountain of the Fork is not the original one that Niccolò Tribolo had in mind when he planned the Boboli Gardens, but it is the one chosen by architect Davide Fortini. In fact, Tribolo wanted to connect the Basin of Neptune with a nursery designed by Giorgio Vasari.
The Basin of Neptune offers one of the most scenic views of the Boboli Gardens, with the Pitti Palace and the Florence old town underneath.
Another famous Fountain of Neptune is in Florence, but nobody calls it by its name. It is the famous Biancone in Piazza della Signoria.
It seems that Florentines enjoy attributing irreverent nicknames to the imposing statues of the god of the sea.
In any case, Florence is a city without a sea and certainly has nothing to fear from angry Neptune.
Picture from Wikipedia