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The Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)

The Trevi Fountain is a remarkable monument of Baroque art, ranking among the top popular sights in Rome. Its grand composition harmoniously blends with the architecture of the splendid Palazzo Poli. The scale of the idea and its masterful execution, the stunning fusion of flowing water and static stone, create a unique ambiance at this site.

History of Construction

The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain’s pure water originates from springs near Rome, channeled through a system constructed in the 1st century BC during Octavian Augustus’s reign. Tribune Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa brilliantly implemented the idea of supplying the empire’s capital with drinking water. Until the 18th century, a small spout in front of the Palazzo Poli allowed passers-by to drink from a modest stone bowl.

Many believe Pope Nicholas V, crowned in the mid-15th century, conceived the fountain. This is only partly true. The commission given to architect Alberti was never realized.

Italians revisited the project over 200 years later. Pope Urban VIII aimed to beautify the square in front of Palazzo Poli, entrusting the task to renowned architect Lorenzo Bernini, who developed the initial design. The pontiff’s death in 1644 halted the work, which resumed in 1700.

Carlo Fontana, Bernini’s student, expanded the master’s concepts, adding Neptune and his attendants to the sculptural group. Fontana’s death in 1714 left the ensemble incomplete once more, but not for long.

Clement XII held a competition among architects, attracting 16 participants. Nicolo Salvi won and skillfully crafted a magnificent composition with numerous figures, seamlessly integrating it with Palazzo Poli’s architectural style.

It’s fair to acknowledge sculptors Filippo della Valle and Pietro Bracci, who crafted most figures in the composition.

The realization of this grand vision spanned 30 years, from 1732 to 1762.

The Composition of the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is the largest on the Apennine Peninsula, measuring about 50 meters in width. The central figure, the majestic Neptune, stands 26 meters tall. The composition’s foundation is the sea god emerging from the depths on a shell-shaped chariot, drawn by sea horses (hippocampi) and newts.

Water flows beneath the heroes, cascading down stone steps, creating a sound reminiscent of ocean surf. It appears as if Neptune is about to continue his journey across the foaming sea. On either side of Neptune are niches housing the Roman goddesses of Health (left) and Abundance (right), the first figures to greet tourists.

Various allegorical figures and bas-reliefs adorn the composition.

Interesting Facts about the Trevi Fountain

Why is the fountain named Trevi? Two theories are popular. The first suggests “trevi” evolved from the Latin “trivium,” meaning “three paths,” as three major Roman streets converge here. The second, more romantic theory, claims it’s named after Trivia, a girl who guided Roman legionaries to a pure spring. Her figure is among the sculptures.

Remarkably, the Trevi Fountain’s water still flows through Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct built over two thousand years ago, with an annual flow of around 80,000 m³.

The Restoration of the Trevi Fountain in 2014

Legend holds that the water has healing and magical properties, promoting happiness in love and marriage. To benefit, one must turn their back to the fountain, throwing three coins over their left shoulder with their right hand.

Each coin has a purpose: the first ensures a return to Rome, the second brings love, and the third strengthens marriage. Couples should drink from the “lovers’ tubes” on the fountain’s right side, believed to solidify their bond.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, drinking from the spring sufficed for happiness. The coin-throwing tradition began in the mid-20th century, inspired by J. Negulesco’s film “Three Coins in the Fountain.”

Due to the overwhelming number of coins, a 1991 ban was briefly enforced. The tradition resumed, partially for economic reasons – the coins collected annually exceed 1 million euros, benefiting a charity fund.

In 2004, the fountain symbolized the European Parliament elections, with a ballot box and EU flag placed by its bowl.

Tourists may find the Palazzo Poli connection intriguing. Russian Princess Volkonskaya once rented its second floor, where Nikolai Gogol read “The Inspector” to her.

The Trevi Fountain has starred in Italian cinema, notably in Federico Fellini’s “Sweet Life” and Adriano Celentano’s “Madly in Love,” highlighting Rome’s beauty.

Video: Collecting coins in the Trevi Fountain:

What Tourists Should Know

Many wonder about the correct pronunciation of “Trevi.” A true Italian emphasizes the first syllable. This respectful pronunciation is appreciated by passionate Italians.

The fountain is accessible to tourists 24/7, free of charge. Evening and nighttime lighting adds a special touch.

Tourists at the Trevi Fountain

For a quieter experience, visit at dawn or late evening. However, any time of day offers splendid views.

Remember, swimming or extracting coins from the fountain incurs a minimum 200-euro fine. Eating or drinking near the sculptures is also prohibited.

After enjoying the Trevi Fountain, visit the nearby Graphics and Design Museum in the Palazzo Poli. The Basilica of Saints Vincenzo and Anastasio, housing fragments of twenty-two Popes’ hearts, and the mid-16th-century Academy of St. Luke in Palazzo Carpegna are also within walking distance.

How to get there

The fountain is in Piazza di Trevi. The easiest access is by metro: take line A to either Spagna or Barberini station. From Spagna, walk Via Vittoria, then onto Via del Corso and Via delle Muratte. From Barberini, take Via Tritone, turning left onto Via Poli. A short walk reveals the majestic Trevi Fountain.