Fontana Pretoria was transported from Florence, and built in Palermo in about 1575. It's nick-name Fontana Vergogna, or Fountain of Shame, given soon after its opening, was derived from the ultra-conservative church people still reeling from the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.
When the great German writer, Goethe, saw Fontana Pretoria in 1787, it had been in use for about 200 years. Goethe's diary should be quoted, " In a square of moderate size stands a circular stone construction a little less than one storey high, the socle, wall and cornice of which are coloured marble. Let into it all the way round are niches from which all sorts of animal heads, carved in white marble, look out, craning necks - horses, lions, camels, elephants in succession. Within this circular menagerie, one is rather surprised to see a fountain. Four flights of marble steps lead up to it from openings cut in the enclosing wall, allowing people to draw the copiously flowing water". Goethe, usually very precise, makes no reference to it as Fountain of Shame.
In my day-time visit, the fountain could be seen renovated and preserved with modern anti-pollution coatings. An ornate circular fence encloses the whole structure as no-one in the 21st century needs to climb the steps to fill their buckets with water. For a better view I climbed the steps of a nearby building, but the spectacle of this beautiful fountain, with its human figures and animal heads appeared lifeless, as there was no sound of water splashing and gurgling.
By the mellow evening light, Fontana Pretoria takes on a different grace. Being near Quattro Canti, just off Corso Vittorio Emanuel, and 3 minutes walk from Via Roma, it is an easy and safe place to walk by night as a solo traveller.
Fontana Pretoria remains another heritage worthy of study; for symbolism, art and life-giving utility in previous times. Where is the "shame"?.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.