Fontana di Trevi

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Trevi Fountain

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The Trevi Fountain is the largest and most famous fountain of Rome, though not the oldest. A fountain was first built in 19 B.C. by Marco Vipsanio Agrippa in order to bring water through an aqueduct to the thermal baths near the Pantheon. According one legend, the aqueduct was named “Virgin Water” in honor of a little girl who told thirsty soldiers of Agrippa where to find a source of water previously undiscovered.

In 1453, Pope Nicholas V ordered Battista Alberti to construct a fountain in the “Trejo” neighborhood (which later became Trevi). With this new fountain, Romans got used to spring water instead of water from the Tiber River. Over the years, there were more changes and some renovations.

Things to see

The Trevi Fountain that we know today was not built until 1735 by Nicolo Salvi under the orders of Pope Clement XII, the construction process lasting for 23 years. The decorations were actually realized by several of Bernini’s assistants. On the left we see Agrippa who presents the first aqueduct project to the Roman Emperor Augustus. On the right we see the meeting between Augustus soldiers and the virgin who showed them the spring. In the middle under the vault of his palace, Neptune stands on an oyster carriage pulled by two flying horses which are pulled by tritons.

A popular legend claims that if you throw a coin in the fountain while facing away from it, you will undoubtedly return to the Eternal City. Another legend refers to Trevi as the lovers’ fountain and claims that if couples drink from its water, they will stay faithful. Unfortunately, the water that feeds the Trevi Fountain is no longer safe for consumption.

A theory says that the famous custom of throwing coin in the fountain started when Ancient Greeks had to pay for their final trip. Another theory says it was a payment in order to come back to the Eternal City and if the coin sank, it meant the payment was accepted. Nowadays, around one million Euros are thrown into the fountain each year. Because this custom attracted thieves, City Hall decided to collect coins every morning and give the resulting money to charity organizations.