In the nineteen thirties Campari, the aperitif firm that produces that heavenly crimson nectar which goes down a treat with ice, soda and a slice of lemon, had the bright idea of building twelve fountains around Italy with the dual purpose of publicising its products and also of providing much needed drinking water. (Presumably one can’t always survive just drinking Campari…)
There are still a few of these fountains left and our photos show the one we passed a few days ago when we went over the Piastre pass which leads down to Pistoia if one is taking the route from the Controneria through San Marcello Pistoiese.
Although somewhat weathered, the Piastre fountain is a supreme example of Italian thirties monumental architecture with its topical allusions to ancient Roman motives (and Mussolini’s idea of a second Roman empire). The sculptor was Giuseppe Gronchi (1882 – 1944) who also had a big hand in the decoration of that colossal wonder, Milan central station.
Attached to the fountain is a rather indecipherable plaque, with English translation.
I wonder if you too have come across these Campari fountains in other parts of Italy. I’d be interested in knowing where.
The Campari drink is now over one and fifty hundred years old since it was invented in 1860 by Gaspare Campari (1828–1882) from Novara. May he be deified for devising such an amazing drink!
The Campari soda bottle, which is still used to this day, is worthy of note too as it was invented by one of Italy’s greatest futurist artists and writers, Fortunato Depero (1892 –1960).
Depero also created some great publicity posters for this liquid of the gods which were way ahead in their designs.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a Campari fountain festival when the fountains decided to pour out pure Campari? But then I’m wandering into the realms of fantasy, as Captain Mainwaring of ’Dad’s army’ would tell lance-corporal Jones…
PS There is a bar near the fountain which does serve Campari if you’re desperate.