Bologna (Italian pronunciation: [boˈloɲɲa] ( listen); Emilian: Bulåggna pronounced [buˈləɲɲa]; Latin: Bononia) is the largest city (and the capital) of Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy. It is the seventh most populated in Italy, heart of a metropolitan area (officially recognized by the Italian Government as a città metropolitana) of about one million.
The city, the first settlements of which date back to at least one 1000 BC, has always been an important urban centre, first under the Etruscans (Velzna/Felsina) and the Celts (Bona), then under the Romans (Bononia), then again in the Middle Ages, as a free municipality (for one century it was the fifth largest European city based on population). Home to the oldest university in the world, University of Bologna, founded in 1088, Bologna hosts thousands of students who enrich the social and cultural life of the city. Famous for its towers and lengthy porticoes, Bologna has a well-preserved historical centre (one of the largest in Italy) thanks to a careful restoration and conservation policy which began at the end of the 1970s, on the heels of serious damage done by the urban demolition at the end of the 19th century as well as that caused by wars.
The Fountain of Neptune (Fontana di Nettuno) is a monumental civic fountain located in the eponymous square, Piazza Nettuno, next to Piazza Maggiore, in Bologna, Italy Its bronze figure of Neptune, extending his reach in a lordly gesture of stilling and controlling the waters, is an early work of Giambologna's maturity, completed about 1567.
An innovation of Giambologna's fountain designs is the fantastic and non-geometrical forms he gave to the basins into which water splashed and flowed, "curiously folded, bulging and elastic in form", as Rosalind Grippi remarked. The fountain is a model example of Mannerist taste of the courtly elite in the mid-sixteenth century: construction of the statue was commissioned by the Cardinal Legate of the city, Charles Borromeo, to symbolize the fortunate recent election of Borromeo's uncle as Pope Pius IV.
The work was designed by the Palermitan architect Tommaso Laureti in 1563, with an over-lifesize bronze of the god Neptune on the top, executed by Giambologna, who had submitted a model for the fountain of Neptune in Florence, but had lost the commission to Baccio Bandinelli. Before the fountain was built, an entire edifice was demolished to make space for it. The fountain was completed in 1565, and the Neptune was fixed in place within a couple of years.