Fontana di Trevi is, by far, the most famous fountain in Rome. It is not the oldest fountain in the capital (it was built between 1732 and 1762), but it is, architecturally speaking, one of the most spectacular, being deemed a fine example of the Baroque style, the most beautiful Baroque fountain in the world even. As it holds true with several other decorative (and functional) fountains of Rome, the Trevi Fountain was built to mark the urban extremity of an aqueduct, in this case, the so-called Aqua Virgo. This ancient aqueduct (it was built in 19 BC) slowly decayed in time, only to be restored in the 15th century, under Pope Nicholas V who found it suitable to provide the structure with a basin from where locals would collect the water supplied by the aqueduct.

The modest 1453 basin, designed by Leon Battista Alberti, was replaced, however, in the first half of the 18th century, with a monumental fountain inspired, as the tradition goes, by the less famed Fontana dell’Acqua Paola (built about a century and a half earlier). The idea of building a new eye-catching fountain occurred first to Pope Urban VIII, in 1629, and he considered the great Baroque architect and sculptor Bernini to do the job. Decades have past until the idea materialized, under Pope Clement XII. Nicola Salvi was the one eventually elected to design the fountain, but the works completed under the supervision of Giuseppe Pannini.

The Trevi Fountain is located in front of Palazzo Poli, and together they form an architectural complex highly appreciated for its coherence in terms of style. The fountain is 26 meters high and 20 meters long, and it is pegged out by the statue of Oceanus (designed by Pietro Bracci, added to the fountain in the last year of its construction, that is, in 1762), which is placed in the central niche of the structure. This niche is flanked by two other side niches (of which it is separated by Corinthian pilasters) populated by the allegorical statues of Abundance and Salubrity. Oceanus is placed in a shell-shaped carriage pulled by tritons and horses (entities related to the aquatic symbolism of the Greek and Roman mythology).

Until the 20th century, Fontana di Trevi was just another fountain of Rome, outstanding, indeed, for its architectural merits, but, in any case, not as reputed as it is today. It was the Academy awarded “Three Coins in the Fountain” that put the fountain on the tourist map of Italy. This film is also the origin of the tradition of throwing coins in the basin in order to make sure fate will bring tourists back in Rome (some couple of thousands of euros are collected each year from the fountain by the authorities and, of course, attempts of stealing the coins have been made). The fountain was also featured in plenty other cinematographic productions.

Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)
Piazza di Trevi, Rome, Italy