L’Aquila Italy: the Fountain of the 99 Spouts

Fountains in Italy are a destination unto themselves. Perfect for a city scavenger hunt for the kids (or the kid in in anyone); a free, always-open and in situ work of art; and ideal for splashing yourself (not necessarily splashing in) on a hot day.

So, take a photo, throw a coin, and then move on. Or, spend some time getting to know a fountain and you’ll usually get a feel for the town’s history, or at least be intrigued by it. Take the Fountain of the 99 Spouts in the city of L’Aquila Italy for example.


Ice-cold water has been gushing from this fountain for over 700 years, but nobody knows where the water comes from. Why are only 93 of the 99 spouts carved (as men, women, and animals) while 6 are plain? Nobody knows. Why is there what looks like a Templar Cross carved into the wall above the fountain? Nobody knows. There are more unexplained things about the fountain too.

What we do know: the fountain was built in 1272, designed by Tancredi da Pentimo, and was originally called La Rivera after the L’Aquila neighborhood which bordered the Aterno river. (Tancredi is allegedly buried somewhere under the fountain, but really, nobody knows.) The fountain’s current name is related to L’Aquila’s history: the town was founded in the early 13th century from 99 neighboring villages and 99 castles.


The L’Aquila Earthquake

You may know that L’Aquila and many towns in the surrounding area were damaged during an earthquake in early April 2009. Almost 300 people were killed and over 48,000 left homeless. As of this writing, things are nowhere near back to normal. But: the fountain was not damaged, and can still be visited. It’s near the train station, and easy to get to, though not incredibly well signposted.

L’Aquila after all has had 11 documented earthquakes since the 14th century and been rebuilt every time.


Photo by VillasFor2 

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Posted by on Sep 14, 2009 in Architecture | 2 Comments


  1. Louise
    September 14, 2009

    Of all the places we have visited in Italy the Fountain of the 99 Spouts is one of my favorite spots. It is well worth a visit.

  2. Madeline
    September 15, 2009

    great to hear, Louise! Yes the photo doesn’t capture the space it occupies – it’s a great place to hang out.


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