Piazza IV Novembre - Perugia Picture

A view of the Piazza IV Novembre from the stairs leading to the cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo). We can see the Fontana Maggiore, a brilliant, 13th century, fountain with gorgeous reliefs:

The fountain is made up of two polygonal basins in white and pink stone, placed one above the other. This structure is in turn surmounted by a bronze basin with a group of three bronze nymphs holding an urn, from where the water gushes. Probably later in date, this group was once topped by four griffins that have since been dismounted and are now housed in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria.

The panels on the lower basin represent salient episodes from the Old Testament (the seduction of Adam by Eve, and of Samson by Delilah). The founding of Rome, a major example for Perugia, is also featured, as well as a kind of agricultural calendar with the related astrological signs. These are followed by the seven “liberal arts” and a personification of Philosophy. Between the “mechanical” and the “liberal arts” is the griffin, Perugia's heraldic symbol, and the lion, the symbol of the Guelph faction of which Perugia was a supporter. During the Middle Ages Italy was divided into two factions, the Guelphs who upheld the claims to temporal power of the Papacy, and the Ghibellines who believed that temporal power should be in the hands of the Holy Roman Emperor. Two eagles conclude the cycle and may lead one to the mistaken conclusion that they represent the symbols of the Holy Roman Emperor. Since the eagle is also the symbol of the city of Pisa, it is more likely that these panels act as Giovanni Pisano's signature.

The upper polygonal basin stands on 24 small columns, each surmounted by a statue. The statues represent characters from the mythological tale concerning the founding of Perugia, as well as references to its political and territorial role. Solomon and other biblical characters are in fact featured, including Moses, John the Baptist, the Archangel Michael and the Archpriest Melchisedech. There is also a personification of Rome, the Church, Theology and the saints Peter and Paul.

(the description of the fountain has been quoted from perugiaonline.com )

The dominating building behind the fountain is the "Palazzo die Priori":
(the following description has also been quoted from perugiaonline.com )

Designs for the Palazzo dei Priori date back as far as the 1270s. A first part consisting of 3 triple-windows towards the square and 10 along Corso Vannucci was built between 1293 and 1297.

A first extension of the building took place between 1333 and 1337, with the addition of two more triple-windows towards the piazza, as well as the stairs and balcony. The lower steps were built in 1902).

After 1353 a second extension was added on the Corso, with six triple-windows, the large doorway and the originally fortified tower that surmounts the access to Via dei Priori.

A third extension was carried out between 1429 and 1443 with the addition of three more triple-windows and the section containing the Collegio del Cambio. A final extension to the rear was built on in the 16th century.

The asymmetrical and irregular facade of the building is the result of the various stages in which it was built. The perimeter of the roof was originally crenellated, symbolising the power of the free city. When Perugia fell to the papal armies the crenellations were demolished in 1610. The upper part of the tower had been destroyed in 1569. The crenellations we see on the roof did not reappear until 1860, with the unification of Italy.

The stairs in Piazza IV Novembre lead to a Gothic portal surmounted by the city's symbols, the griffin and lion. These are reproductions - the originals are kept in the Galleria Nazionale.

Given their size, early date and the fact that they are in bronze, the statues were probable cast in Venice in 1274.

The portal leads into the Sala dei Notari, formerly the Town Council Hall, which was allocated to the notaries guild in 1582. Their former headquarters, the Palazzetto dei Notari, opposite Palazzo dei Priori in Corso Vannucci, had had to be partially demolished to enlarge the left side of Via Calderini.

For the complete text look here: [link]


Location: Perugia, Umbria, Italy


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