Lactating fountains, most of which are in Italy and pretty old, were often considered as funny and interesting attraction for the people and were very much popular in the country in the 16th century. This visual tradition of the lactating Nymphs, the Nereids, Sirens and Goddesses, representing Nature as ample breasted women, made those mythological characters popular icons for protection, regeneration and fertility.
Fountain of Neptune, Bologna
There is a popular saying that Bologna is famous for its three‘T’s, which are Tortellini (ring-shaped pasta),Torri (gateway) and Tette (breasts).Designed by the Sicilian artist Tommaso Laureti and executed by Giambologna in 1567, the Fountain of Neptune is considered as one of the famous landmarks of Bologna.
Located in Piazza Nettuno, it is a typical example of Italian Mannerist style, popular with the courtly elite during the mid-sixteenth century. The popular lactating Nereid is situated at the foot of Neptune. In fact, the fountain has its base on three steps and there is a base where there are four Nereids, depicted as holding their breasts, from which jets of water emerge.
Fountain of Fertility, Tivoli
The Villa d’Este, a 16th century villa in Tivoli, near Rome, is famous for its terraced hillside garden and its profusion of fountains. However, the most famous fountain in the lower garden of the villa is the Fountain of Diana of Ephesus, also known as the Fountain of Fertility or the Fountain of Mother Nature. Set in an artificial grotto, made of tartar flakes, it was created by the Flemish sculptor Gillis van den Vliete in 1568, and modeled after a classical Roman statue of Diana of Ephesus, the multiple breasted goddess from the second century, which is now exhibited in the National Museum of Naples.
Interpreted as the Ephesian Artemis, the great mother goddess, she was popular in the ancient world as the goddess of fertility. She has numerous smooth, oval-shaped, bumps on her midriff, which are interpreted differently by the scholars. It was thought by some that these objects were her breasts, the symbols of fertility. In the fountain, jets of water spurt from the multiple breasts of the goddess.
Fontana della Spinacorona, Naples
Commonly known as Fontana della Zizze , or the Fountain of the Breasts, Fontana della Spinacorona is located against a wall of the church of Santa Caterina della Spina Corona and is one of the symbols of Naples. The present fountain was commissioned by the viceroy don Pedro of Toledo and created by Giovanni da Nola in 1540, who actually restored and modified an old fountain to give it a new form. Incidentally, it is the least known of the three Naples fountains representing the Siren Parthenope.The rectangular structure of the fountain is made of marble, adorned with garlands and the crests. At the sides of the basin there are two slabs with the coat of arms of Charles V placed between the Pillars of Hercules.
At the centre of the structure, stands on the summit of Vesuvius, the marble statue of siren Parthenope, as depicted in the classic mythological iconography of a woman-bird of prey who is squeezing her breasts in her desperate attempt to extinguish the flames of the Vesuvius volcano with the water that flows from her breasts (the ‘zizze’ in Neapolitan language, means tits), which earned it the popular name of ‘fountain of the zizze’.
Fontana delle Tette, Treviso
Originally installed inside the Palazzo Pretorio, on Via Calmaggiore, the main street of the historic centre of Treviso, the appropriately named Fonta della Tette was erected in 1559. In fact, after a severe drought in the city, the mayor (Podesta) of the Republic of Venice commissioned the marble fountain, depicting a topless voluptuous woman squeezing her breasts. Every autumn, after the election of a new Podesta, arrangements were made to flow free celebratory wine from the fountain, instead of water. While red wine streamed from one of the breasts, white wine poured from the other, which continued for three consecutive days. The annual tradition continued until the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797.
With braided hair and a look that instills serenity, the woman of the Fonta della Tette became a symbol of a city. Unfortunately, it was shot and damaged by the soldiers of Napoleon in the early nineteenth century, as they took it as the symbol of power of the local Podestas. After that, the fountain went missing and remained lost until the end of the 19th century, when the distorted statue of the bosomy woman was safely placed in a glass case and rehabilitated in the nearby Loggia dei Cavalieri as an exhibit. A new version of the fountain was built in 1989. However, instead of occasional wine, today only water flows from breasts of the statue.
Amalfi Fountain of Breasts
The Amalfian Fountain of Breasts sits at the foot of the Fountain of Saint Andrew, also known as Fontana Sant’andrea, the patron Saint of the Amalfi coast and the protector of seaman. It is a marble Baroque-style fountain representing the apostle with four cherubs and a Nymph at his feet. The bare-breasted Nymph is depicted as a lactating woman, with two water spouts emanating from her nipples.
This 18th-century art piece once stood in front of the monumental staircase of the cathedral, before it was moved to its current location, in the middle of a busy piazza, at the end of the last century.