The Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

The Trevi Fountain, also known as the Fontana di Trevi, is a majestic landmark located in Rome, Italy. This beautiful fountain is one of the most iconic in the world, and the largest Baroque fountain located in the city. This fountain is famous all over the world; however, there are not many people who know the true history associated with this timeless piece of Italian art. According to tradition, if a visitor tosses a coin into the fountain, they are destined to return to the city of Rome once again. There are many other legends and secrets associated with the historic Trevi Fountain that help make it one of the most popular places for tourists to visit.

Trevi Fountain Legends & Historical Facts

The Trevi Fountain was built during the 15th century. It was meant to mark the ending destination of the Aqua Virgo, a manmade water channel that was erected in 19 BC which provided fresh water to the people of Rome for more than 400 years. The water is transported from Salone Springs which is located around 8 miles from the city of Rome; however, the length of the aqueduct is close to 14 miles.

The fountain was redesigned by the Italian architect, Nicola Salvi in the 1700’s and finished by Pietro Bracci in 1762 following Salvi’s death. This enchanting stone fountain stands an impressive 86 ft. high and 161.3 ft. wide. It can be found at the junction of three roads in the Trevi district of Rome. Its location marks the modernized terminal point of Acqua Vergine, which is a revived version of Aqua Virgo (also known as the Virgin Waters), one of the aqueducts that supplied water to the people of ancient Rome. According to the legend, a young female virgin, some refer to as a shepherdess, guided a group of Roman soldiers who were tired and thirsty to a spring of pure, fresh water. The scene is depicted in the design of the fountain, and the legend is also where the Trevi Fountain got its name.

Construction and Modern Renovations

Pope Urban VIII in 1629 requested that the fountain be renovated because he found the design to be overly dramatic. He asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini to sketch renovation ideas for the project; however, the Pope died before he had a chance to see the renovations take place. While Bernini’s ideas were never constructed, there are some of his touches present in the fountain today. During the Baroque era, many competitions were held in the area to design buildings, fountains and other structures. Nicola Salvi was awarded the honor of commission to work on the fountain. He began in 1732 and the project was completed in 1762 by Pietro Bracci, several years after Salvi’s death. Later, Giuseppe Panini added the sculptures of Agrippa and Trivia, the Roman virgin to the fountain, making it one of the most historic and cultural landmarks in the entire city of Rome.

The Restoration of This Iconic Piece of History

In 1998, the fountain was restored. All the stonework was cleaned and the cracks repaired by skilled artisans. Recirculating pumps were added to the fountain, bringing new life to this legendary piece. In 2013 the Italian fashion company Fendi announced that they would sponsor a 20 month long 2.2 million-euro restoration of the fountain, which would be the most thorough restoration of the landmark’s history. As of July of 2014, which is the peak tourist season for Rome, the pool of the fountain is empty and scaffolds cover the familiar design. While visitors are allowed to walk across the scaffold overhead, they are not allowed to throw coins into the empty fountain, a time-honored tradition for tourists of the area and something that no visitor wants to miss out on. The fountain is expected to be reopened in October of 2015.

The Coin Throwing Tradition

The Trevi Fountain is filled with coins of all types which have been thrown in by visitors to Rome for decades. The coins are meant to be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder. This idea was depicted from the 1954 Academy Award winning film Three Coins in the Fountain, and song of the same name, which mentions the throwing method. It is estimated that more than 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain on any given day. The money has been used to fund a supermarket designed for the needy people of Rome; however, there are regular attempts, by locals and visitors alike, to steal coins from the fountain.

The Trevi Fountain in Modern Culture

Being one of the most popular fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain has been featured in popular culture many times. Artwork of the fountain’s design can be seen on handbags, umbrella shades, and various other accessories for your wardrobe or home. It has been featured in Respighi’s symphonic pictures Fontane di Roma, and was the setting for an iconic scene in the film La Dolce Vita, starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg. When Mastroianni passed away in 1996, the fountain was turned off and draped in black to honor him. American films, such as Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn have used the fountain as a backdrop for many memorable scenes.

Whether you visit the Trevi Fountain in Rome to experience the beauty for yourself, or enjoy the unique design on your favorite umbrella on rainy days, one look and it is easy to see why this piece is one of the most popular fountains in the world.