Trevi Fountain in Rome

The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is an amazing monument of Baroque art, which occupies one of the first places in the top of popular attractions in Rome. The grandiose composition blends harmoniously with the architecture of the magnificent Palazzo Poli. The scale of the idea and the masterful execution of it, the amazing combination of living water and frozen stone create a unique aura in this place.

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Video: Trevi Fountain

History of Construction

The Trevi Fountain’s purest water comes from springs near Rome through a system that was built back in the 1st century B.C. during the reign of Octavian Augustus. The idea of providing the capital of the empire with drinking water was brilliantly carried out by the tribune Marcus Vyspasius Agrippa. Until the 18th century, anyone who happened to be passing by on the square in front of the Poli Palace could drink from a small spring which gushed into an unremarkable stone bowl.

Many are convinced that the idea of erecting the fountain belongs to Pope Nicholas V, whose forehead was adorned by a tiara in the middle of the XV century. This is only partly true. The order given then to the architect Alberti, was never implemented.

The Italians returned to the practical realization of the idea more than 200 years later. Pope Urban VIII decided to decorate the square in front of the Palazzo Poli and commissioned the famous architect Lorenzo Bernini, who developed the original project, to carry out this task. The death of the pontiff in 1644 caused a pause, work resumed in 1700. It was Carlo Fontana, his pupil, who finalized the ideas of the master. He, following the idea of his mentor, enriched the sculptural group with figures of Neptune and his servants. In 1714, the artist died, and the ensemble was left unfinished once more. Fortunately, not for long. Clement XII announced a competition among architects, in which 16 masters took part. The victory went to Nicolo Salvi, and the master brilliantly coped with a difficult task: he created a magnificent composition with a lot of heroes, harmoniously linking its style with the architectural features of the Poli palace. Among the sculptors who built the Trevi Fountain, it would be fair to mention two men: Filippo della Valle and Pietro Bracci. It was they who executed most of the figures that make up the composition.

The implementation of the grandiose plan took a long time – the monumental ensemble was built for 30 years, from 1732 to 1762.

Composition of the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is the largest on the Apennine peninsula. Its width is about 50 meters, and the main character, the majestic Neptune, reaches a height of 26 meters. The basis of the composition is the figure of the sea god appearing from the depths on a chariot in the form of a shell, which is harnessed to the sea horses (hippocampus) and newts. The water flows beneath the heroes’ feet, its torrents rushing down the stone steps and making a noise reminiscent of the sound of the surf. It seems that Neptune is about to continue his journey on the foaming sea. In niches on either side of the formidable husband are figures of the Roman goddesses of Health (left) and Abundance (right). These statues are the first to greet the tourists flocking to the square. The composition is adorned with a variety of allegorical figures and bas-reliefs.

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Sculptural compositions in detail

Interesting facts

Why is the fountain so named? Two versions seem to be the most plausible. According to the first one, “trevi” is a distortion of the Latin “trivium”, “three paths”, and it is on this square that the three great Roman streets converge. The second is more romantic: the ensemble is named after the beautiful Trivia. According to legend, this was the name of the girl who showed the Roman legionaries the way to the purest spring. Her figure can be found among the sculptures of the ensemble.

Restoration of the Trevi Fountain in 2014

It seems incredible, but water still flows into the Trevi Fountain through pipes built more than two thousand years ago by the aqueduct known as Aqua Virgo (“water of the Virgin”). The annual flow is about 80,000 m³.

Legend has it that this local water is not only healing but also has magical properties: it is able to grant people happiness in love and marriage. To do this, perform the following ritual: turn your back to the fountain and throw three coins one by one over your left shoulder with your right hand. The first one is a pledge that you will definitely return to the Eternal City, the second one will bring you together with the love of your life in the near future, and the third one will make your conjugal union strong and long-lasting. Come to the square with your other half? Then you should go to the right side of the Trevi Fountain. There you’ll find little “lovers’ pipes,” with sprays of it hitting towards each other. Taking a few sips of this water will make your bond unbreakable.

Trevi Fountain in all its glory

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was enough to simply scoop a full glass from the spring and drink it to achieve happiness. The tradition of throwing coins appeared comparatively recently, in the middle of the last century. They associate its appearance with the release of the film “Three Coins in the Fountain” by J. Negulesko. Wanting to get happiness in his personal life in such a simple way was so great that the caretakers were literally falling off their feet, getting from the bottom every day a huge amount of change. It got to the point that in 1991 to throw money into the Trevi Fountain just banned. True, not for long. In addition to the desire to renew the tradition authorities were guided by another economic background – the number of coins taken from the bottom gives for the year amount exceeding 1 million euros. This money goes to a special charity fund.

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In 2004, this architectural masterpiece was chosen as a symbol of the elections to the European Parliament. On voting days, a ballot box and the flag of the European Union were installed in the fountain.

Since the composition is located right next to the walls of Palazzo Poli, the tourist, especially from our region, will be interested to know that the second floor of the palace was once rented by the Russian Princess Volkonskaia. It was here that Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol read her his “Inspector General”.

The Trevi Fountain has long been an important “hero” of Italian cinema. It is the setting for the love scene of Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita”. Adriano Celentano brings Princess Ornella Muti in Crazy in Love, showing the beauty of Rome.

Video: Collecting Coins in the Trevi Fountain

What a tourist should know

Many people ask what syllable should be stressed in the word “Trevi”? For a real Italian, the answer can only be one – of course, on the first. Such a sign of respect for the hosts of the city will be appreciated by temperamental Italians.

The fountain is available for tourists around the clock throughout the year for free. In the evening and at night the original lighting gives a special flavor to this amazing place.

Tourists at the Trevi Fountain

It’s never deserted. But if you want a little more tranquility, it’s better to come at dawn or late afternoon. However, if you find yourself in this place at sunset or even in the heat of the afternoon, the splendor of what you see is guaranteed too.

To avoid getting into trouble, remember – it’s strictly forbidden to swim in the fountain or try to get coins out of it. You will be fined fairly large amount of money – at least 200 euros. Eating and drinking in the vicinity of the sculptures is also prohibited.

After admiring the Trevi Fountain, you can visit the museum of graphics and design, which is located here – in the building of the Palazzo Poli. From the windows you can enjoy a view of the square and sculptures from several floors.

Within walking distance is the Basilica of Saints Vincenzo and Anastasio. In it rests the fragments of the hearts of twenty-two Roman Popes, which were extracted before embalming.

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Interesting for tourists is the Academy of St. Luke, whose history goes back to the middle of the 16th century. It is located in the nearby Palazzo Carpegna.

How to get there

The fountain is in the square of the same name (Piazzo di Trevi). The easiest way to get here is to use the metro. Take line A and go either to Spagna or Barberini stations. From there continue on foot. Take Via Vittoria and turn off in Via del Corso and then in Via delle Muratte. From the station Barberini take Via Tritone and turn left in Via Poli. For a few steps you can see the famous Trevi Fountain.

The Trevi Fountain: Rome’s most beautiful fountain, earning €1.4 million a year

The Trevi Fountain is the largest fountain in Rome. It is even hard to call it a fountain, because in fact the fountain de Trevi is only the facade of the once famous Palazzo Poli (you can easily verify this by looking at the windows of the building).

Now the palace acts as a life-giving spring and is one of Rome’s most recognizable landmarks.

The Fountain de Trevi in Rome

History of the Fountain of Trevi

Although the current form was only created in the 18th century, the history of this place as a fountain begins as far back as the 1st century B.C.

Aqua Virgo.

It all began when the Emperor Augustus, who ruled at the time, decided to redesign the city, as Rome was growing bigger and bigger every day. And then the question of the city’s water supply became an issue.

To solve the problem, the emperor sent a detachment of legionaries in search of a source of water, but the search was unsuccessful. Only when the grieving unit was returning to the city did the legionnaires encounter a girl who showed them the way to the source.

An aqueduct was then built in the city, fed from this spring and named after the girl – Aqua Virgo, which translates as Waters of the Virgin.

By the way, this moment is also depicted on the modern version of the fountain – the right scene tells just about it:

Bas-relief on the Trevi Fountain about the history of the source

The Aqua Virgo worked properly until the middle of the 6th century, when the supply of the spring was damaged by the Goths in their attack on Rome. Two centuries later, the aqueduct was restored with routine repairs, so that the fountain was able to operate until the 17th century, when the aqueduct decided to be rebuilt.

Construction of the fountain

The idea of building something majestic instead of a simple fountain was seriously raised by Pope Urban VIII. So in 1640 he commissioned Lorenzo Bernini to draw the plans for a new fountain.

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Bernini sketched several sketches, focusing primarily on the history of the appearance of the aqueduct, but after the death of the Pope, work was suspended and the new Pope was not interested in continuing the project.

Pope Clement XII resumed work at a later date and gave the project to Nicola Salvi. The architect reciprocated Bernini’s idea of the history of the aqueduct, additionally adding his own elements for colourfulness: the god Poseidon and his servants.

Trevi Fountain in an engraving by Piranesi in 1773

One important part of the construction was that Nicolo combined the Poli palace with the fountain, creating a single architectural composition. It turned out that the palace served as a kind of backdrop for the spring.

The construction of the Fontana de Trevi under Salvi lasted exactly 30 years: from 1732 to 1762. Such a period is not small, so Nicolo Salvi never saw his creation, he did not live to see the end of construction for 10 years.

The name of the Trevi Fountain.

Since the created fountain was a much more improved version of Avca Virgo, it was decided to change its name. The most logical and simple explanation states that the fountain is located at the intersection of 3 streets, and the name decided to connect just with it. From the Italian “Tre Via” translates as three streets.

By the way, if you do not want to be laughed at by the locals, then put the accent on the first syllable – Trevi.

The architecture of the source

In the Trevi Fountain in Rome, the architect put a lot of meaning and a lot of metaphors. But the main figure of the source is the god Neptune, lord of the seas and oceans, who personifies water, which can be fully drunk in this aqueduct.

Neptune stands on a chariot-shell pulled by the horses of the sea. The two horses, one turbulent on the right and one serene on the left, represent the unsteady state of the sea. The horses are led by the servants-tritons with horns in the form of seashells.

And in the niches of the palace on the sides of Poseidon are two goddesses: the goddess of health on the right and the goddess of plenty on the left.

Architectural composition of the Trevi Fountain in Rome

Also on the palazzo itself directly behind the lord of the seas are four columns, symbolizing the four seasons.

The size of the fountain

Nicola Salvi tried to make a creation in the Baroque style which was fashionable at that time. This direction in art implies under itself as possible lush and beautiful to present the fruit of his labors.

Therefore, the size of the Trevi Fountain in Rome turned out very impressive: the height of the construction to the highest statue is 26 meters, and the width of the whole structure is almost 20 meters!

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Traditions and legends of the Trevi Fountain

The most famous tradition is to throw a coin to go back to Rome. Usually one coin is thrown, but enterprising Italians have invented a legend for tourists to throw more coins:

  • 1 coin to go back to Rome;
  • toss two coins to find your love;
  • and leave 3 coins to enter a happy marriage.

The number of coins left, of course, depends only on you, but I think that even if you throw 1 coin, but make a wish and strongly believe in it, it will definitely come true in these wonderful waters.

Coins in the Trevi Fountain

An interesting fact about this tradition. After the restoration in the 90’s authorities have banned throwing anything in the fountain, but have quickly come to their senses. After all, every year tourists leave more than 1,400,000 euros in the fountain with coins. By comparison, the National Roman Museum, which displays the world’s famous artifacts, earns about 1.1 million euros a year.

But don’t dare to fetch coins from the Trevi! All money thrown into the fountain is considered the property of the Roman authorities, and if caught doing so, there is a fine of up to five hundred euros.

After money is collected by the utilities, the funds are deposited into the account of Caritas, a charitable organization that helps with food for the poor, housing for the poor, and sponsoring other charitable projects.

Collecting coins from the Trevi Fountain in Rome

Another famous belief is for lovers. For the loving couple to remain always happy and their love for each other to never fade, it is necessary to drink water from the “pipes of lovers”. These pipes are located on the right side of the aqueduct.

Lovers' pipes in the Trevi Fountain in Rome

Tip: It’s best to visit Trevi in the morning or evening, because during the day there are usually a lot of people, sometimes even to the water can’t be pushed.

Video about the fountain de Trevi

Take a closer look at the landmark in this video, which lasts less than a minute.

Hotels near the Trevi Fountain

If you come to Rome and do not know where to stay, the Trevi Fountain area is ideal. The Trevi Fountain is within walking distance of everything worth seeing and you don’t need to spend a fortune on transportation to get there.

Where is it and how to get to Trevi

Trevi Fountain is located in Piazza di Trevi and can be reached by metro, getting off at Barberini station. After that, you will have to walk a little bit:

From Barberini to Trevi

Also, the famous Colosseum is not too far from Trevi:

From Trevi to Colosseum


Knowing all the sights Italy perfectly. In his spare time he travels around the country and is willing to share his experiences in articles on Italy-Insider.

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