Two musical cupids in Vicentian stone seem to be playing classical melodies on the very top.
Below, half concealed inside the niche, the characters in the fountain catch the attention of the visitor, who magically becomes aware of them as he enters from the large entrance to the park. It is a sculptural group executed in marble, “Statuario Michelangelo” of Carrara, carved by master Giovanni Bedini (1921-2002), representing the abduction of Paris and Helen. It was reproduced from the original kept in Florence executed by Vincenzo De’ Rossi (1525-1587) in 1560.
The Mannerist sculptor catches the moment in which the woman tries to escape from the grip of Paris. Note that Paris, with a foot, is crushing a wild boar’s head with a gesture symbolic of contempt and sensuality. In short, the two mythological characters are Paris, he who gave the golden apple to the most beautiful goddess, Aphrodite, in exchange for the promise to be able to know the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen. The extraordinary beauty of Helen induced Theseus to kidnap her.
Eventually, in Sparta, Helen married Menelaus, and here the abduction represented took place, the cause of the war of Troy.
It is by now a habit for guests of the Grand Hotel and for Stresian tourists to go near to the fountain in the afternoon. The nocturnal lighting renders the reading on the monument even more emotional and it appears enchanting and almost animated by the reflection of the play of the water on the mosaic walls. So, between myth and reality, a person may throw a small coin into the water with his back turned to the monument, perhaps with the hidden hope to return here, or to celebrate the moment of participation in the symbolic nature of which the silent actors are for ever protagonists. Turning our backs to the fountain, we now see the terrace of the first floor where we find two life-sized statues.
The female figure, enwrapped in a garment made of several drapes, gently holds a nest with young birds inside. She is a “Grace“.
The male figure is naked, adorned solely with vine leaves and bunches of grapes. With one arm he leans on a trunk, in the other hand drunkely holds a chalice turned upside down. He is the Roman Bacchus or the Greek Dionysus, a divinity whose cult, open to all, embodied natural energy. To conclude the visit, let us go to the PROTIRO D’INGRESSO (the main entrance) a group of four life-sized statues.
They are a joyous Baroque representation of the “hours.” They were the goddesses of natural order, the perpetual alternation of the cycle. In our case, the beautiful young women are partly covered in drapes held together by knots, buckles and belts, and they allow their shaped figures to show. Looking at the vestibule from the outside so as to allow ourselves to see beyond the two statues on the ground floor and the two on the terrace of the first floor, we single out “Spring” to our left. She holds a rich wreath of flowers, which we also find in her hair. The slightly opened mouth hints at her singing happily. To the right “Autumn,” with a sweet smile, is depicted as a the goddess who holds rich bunches of grapes inserted in her hair.
Above, to our left, is “Winter.” She holds a cloak tightly around her, and has a brazier at her feet containing fire. In contrast, to the right, clad in a light kitone, “Summer” reveals her attractiveness while to the side she displays a bunch of ears of grain.