This graceful and flirtatious woman is one statue in a series that adorns the (in)famous fountain that dominates Palermo’s Piazza Pretoria. Originally designed and constructed in 1554-55 by Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani for the garden of a Tuscan villa, it was purchased and augmented by the city of Palermo in 1573. Depicting nude gods, goddesses, and nymphs were stylish in Florentine art, yet the suggestive poses and naked bodies shocked conservative Palermitani and more so, the cloistered nuns in the convent of la Chiesa di Santa Caterina that faces Piazza Pretoria. In fact, legend is that in the middle of the night, the nuns would clothe the statues when no one was around!
The landmark, which also sits in front of the city’s municipal building, soon came to be known as “La Fontana della Vergogna,” or “The Fountain of Shame.”