FOUNTAIN OF SANTA MARIA IN POGGIO
The fountain of Santa Maria in Poggio is one of the oldest which has the typical form of a spindle in Viterbo. This fountain shows the same artistic elements of the others fountains of the thirteenth century. This fountain is also known as “della Crocetta” because of the religious order ( padri religiosi crociferi ministri degli Infermi) -whose founder was St. Camillus de Lellis – who are in the church of Santa Maria in Poggio since 1603. Among the fountains of Viterbo, it is one of the best known because of its link with the young Santa Rosa. In mid-1200 it was translated from the church of Santa Maria in Poggio to the current grave inside the Monastery of Santa Rosa. The church has a small marble inscription that says: The 6.III.1252 / Here was buried the body / Saint Rose of Viterbo / exhumed and uncorrupted / on 3. IX. 1258. The fountain is also called the fountain of Santa Rosa because a legend tells of a story, remembered among the miracles of the Saint, where the young girl one day who visited the fountain to draw water broke a pitcher of her partner and was harshly reprimanded , so the Saint picked up the pieces and miraculously put them back together and refilled the pitcher returning to her companion.
The spindle fountain is presented with circular bowl, the base is isolated by a step from the pavement of the road which gathers water runoff. The tub comes with a parapet rectangular panels. At the center of the basin we find the spindle, it consists of a column and the center by an oval element, from which protrudes a head male and one female, alternating with two lions’ heads, which support the unions from which the water comes out. A different element from the other fountains in which the unions always have a lion’s head. The side that ends with an octagonal spire, on one side is a bas-relief of a racing dog. This is also an element of originality in the fountain compared to the classical forms. Over the time there was a sculpture consisting of two female figures, one of which is Santa Rosa. The story represented commemorates the miracle of the jug healed. The sculptural group probably replaces a pine cone as you can see in other types of spindle-shaped fountains added later. Other types of fountains in this time period ending with a pine cone on top are located in Piazza delle Morte, Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza Dante.
AA.VV. Il centro Storico di Viterbo, Betagamma, Viterbo, 2001, p. 206.
B. Corradini, Le fontane di Viterbo, centro internazionale La sponda Roma, 1998.
P. Agostinetti, Fontane a Viterbo. Roma, 1985, p. 44.