The city of L'Aquila, located in central Italy, is a beautiful gem that gained international attention in 2009 after a devastating earthquake damaged much of the town. But, happily, L'Aquila is getting renewed attention for a much more positive reason, thanks to a photo posted by Redditor daenel. This local's image of an optical illusion transforming the water from a fountain into “fire” has been shared thousands of times, with everyone wondering if the photo is real or Photoshopped.
We're happy to report that it is, indeed, real. Daenel writes that though he lives in L'Aquila, he'd never before seen this phenomenon. In fact, it was his young daughter who first took note of the illusion, stopping to point and say “fire.” Though daenel only had a “cheap camera” to capture the moment, he intends on heading back next year at the same time to see if he can spot the dazzling illusion again.
The fountain is actually called Fontana Luminosa, which translates to “luminous fountain.” It was created in 1934 by sculptor Nicola D'Antino and is located in the city's historic center. The fountain was slightly damaged in the 2009 earthquake and was subsequently restored, becoming fully functional again in 2016.
And while some people have a hard time believing that the photograph is real, the illusion is certainly possible. The Yosemite Firefall is a well-known example of the same optical illusion. Exceedingly rare, it's not difficult to see why daenel had never seen it before even though he lives in town. For the fiery illusion to occur, several different factors need to fall in place.
Not only does the Sun need to fall in just the right place, but the sky must be completely clear in order for the illusion to work. And, since the illusion lasts for just a short time, someone needs to be on hand at the correct moment to document it. So, in daenel's case, it truly was all about being in the right place at the right time.