Fontana Dei Matti

Fountain in Gubbio

Fontana Dei Matti
CC BY-SA 3.0 / trolvag

Nestled within the charming medieval streets of Gubbio, Italy, stands a unique landmark that has captured the imagination of locals and visitors alike for centuries: the 16th-century fountain affectionately known as the “Fountain of the Madmen.” Officially titled the Fontana del Bargello after the grand palace it graces, this fountain holds a central position in the heart of the old town, serving as a focal point for communal gatherings and lively conversations.

Legend has it that the fountain holds mystical powers, offering those who partake in a peculiar ritual the esteemed title of “matto di Gubbio” or “madman of Gubbio.” To obtain this coveted designation, one must first be baptized by the fountain’s waters after completing three clockwise turns around its circumference. However, there’s a catch: this ritual must be performed under the guidance of a local resident. Following this whimsical ceremony, individuals can procure an official certificate attesting to their newfound lunacy, along with an honorary citizenship, from nearby vendors.

While the tradition may seem outlandish at first glance, geological studies of the peculiar rock formations surrounding Gubbio have shed light on a possible explanation. These studies reveal the presence of highly toxic iridium, a chemical that has permeated the area for centuries. Could it be that the city’s eccentric tradition is rooted in this geological anomaly, offering a whimsical explanation for its enduring allure? Whether steeped in myth or grounded in geological fact, the Fountain of the Madmen continues to captivate the imagination, adding a touch of intrigue to the quaint streets of Gubbio.


The Fontana Dei Matti appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Gubbio!

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Visiting Fontana Dei Matti

Address: Fontana del Bargello, Via dei Consoli, Gubbio, Province of Perugia, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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