03 03 2014 Back
Across Via Maqueda is Piazza Pretoria, a crowd of imposing churches and buildings (many currently under scaffolding) that surround the fabulously ostentatious Fontana Pretoria.
The fountain dominates the piazza with its tiered basins rippling out in concentric circles crowded with nude nymph~ tritons and river gods that leap about the water. Designed for the Tuscan villa of Don Pedro di Toledo, Palermo bought the fountain in 1573 in a bid to outshine the newly crafted Fontana di Orione installed in Messina. Proudly positioned in front or the Palazzo Pretorio (Municipal Hall), the flagrant nudity and leering nymphs proved a bit much for Sicilian churchgoers attending the grandly formal Chiesa di San Giuseppl dei Teatini, and they prudishly dubbed it the Fountain of Shame.
Closing off the eastern side of the square is the Chiesa di Santa Caterina (Discesa dei Giudici), Palermo's finest baroque church with a typical Sicilian story. Held in trust by seven very old nuns, the door is always open and the public gets the briefest glimpse of its stunning stucco statuary, pastel frescoes and amethyst and lapis altars.