Essential Architecture-  ROME

Trevi Fountain


initial sketches Bernini, later competition winner Nicola Salvi (with Pietro Bracci's 'Neptune' was set in the central niche).


It is located in the rione of Trevi. The fountain at the juncture of three roads (tre vie) marks the terminal point of the "modern" Acqua Vergine, the revivified Aqua Virgo, one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome.






standing 25.9 meters (85 feet) high and 19.8 meters (65 feet) wide


  The fountain of Trevi, filled with coins, from another perspective.
  What a bucket of red paint can do to Trevi Fountain
Image copyright Tim Devlin.

The Trevi Fountain (Italian: Fontana di Trevi)[1] is the largest — standing 25.9 meters (85 feet) high and 19.8 meters (65 feet) wide — and most ambitious of the Baroque fountains of Rome.

Pre-1629 history of the aqueduct and the fountain site
The fountain at the juncture of three roads (tre vie) marks the terminal point of the "modern" Acqua Vergine, the revivified Aqua Virgo, one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome. In 19 BC, supposedly with the help of a virgin, Roman technicians located a source of pure water some 13 km (8 miles) from the city. (This scene is presented on the present fountain's facade). However, the eventual indirect route of the aqueduct made its length some 22 km (14 miles). This Aqua Virgo led the water into the Baths of Agrippa. It served Rome for more than four hundred years. The "coup de grace" for the urban life of late classical Rome came when the Goth besiegers in 537/38 broke the aqueducts. Medieval Romans were reduced to drawing water from polluted wells and the Tiber River, which was also used as a sewer.

The Roman custom of building a handsome fountain at the endpoint of an aqueduct that brought water to Rome was revived in the fifteenth century, with the Renaissance. In 1453, Pope Nicholas V finished mending the Acqua Vergine aqueduct and built a simple basin, designed by the humanist architect Leon Battista Alberti, to herald the water's arrival.

The present fountain

Commission, construction and design
In 1629 Pope Urban VIII, finding the earlier fountain insufficiently dramatic, asked Bernini to sketch possible renovations, but when the Pope died the project was abandoned. Bernini's lasting contribution was to resite the fountain from the other side of the square to face the Quirinal Palace (so the Pope could look down and enjoy it). Though Bernini's project was torn down for Salvi's fountain, there are many Bernini touches in the fountain as it was built. An early, striking and influential model by Pietro da Cortona, preserved in the Albertina, Vienna, also exists, as do various early eighteenth century sketches, most unsigned, as well as a project attributed to Nicola Michetti[6] one attributed to [[Ferdinando Fuga[7] and a French design by Edme Bouchardon.

Competitions had become the rage during the Baroque era to design buildings, fountains, and even the Spanish Steps. In 1730 Pope Clement XII organized a contest in which Nicola Salvi initially lost to Alessandro Galilei — but due to the outcry in Rome over the fact that a Florentine won, Salvi was awarded the commission anyway. Work began in 1732, and the fountain was completed in 1762, long after Clement's death, when Pietro Bracci's 'Neptune' was set in the central niche.

Salvi died in 1751, with his work half-finished, but before he went he made sure a stubborn barber's unsightly sign would not spoil the ensemble, hiding it behind a sculpted vase. The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini, who substituted the present bland allegories for planned sculptures of Agrippa and "Trivia", the Roman virgin.


The fountain was refurbished in 1998; the stonework was scrubbed and the fountain provided with recirculating pumps.

The backdrop for the fountain is the Palazzo Poli, given a new facade with a giant order of Corinthian pilasters that link the two main stories. Taming of the waters is the theme of the gigantic scheme that tumbles forward, mixing water and rockwork, and filling the small square. Tritons guide Neptune's shell chariot, taming seahorses (hippocamps).

In the center is superimposed a robustly modelled triumphal arch. The center niche or exedra framing Neptune has free-standing columns for maximal light-and-shade. In the niches flanking Neptune, Abundance spills water from her urn and Salubrity holds a cup from which a snake drinks. Above, bas reliefs illustrate the Roman origin of the aqueducts.

The tritons and horses provide symmetrical balance, with the maximum contrast in their mood and poses (by 1730, the rococo is already in full bloom in France and Germany).

Coin throwing
A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. Among those who are unaware that the "three coins" of Three Coins in the Fountain were thrown by three different individuals, a reported current interpretation is that two coins will ensure a marriage will occur soon, while three coins leads to a divorce. A reported current version of this legend is that it is lucky to throw three coins with one's right hand over one's left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain.

Approximately 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day and are collected at night. The money has been used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome's needy. However, there are regular attempts to steal coins from the fountain, including some using a magnetized pole.

Popular culture
A slightly scaled-down replica of the Trevi Fountain can be found outside the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Swimming in the fountain
Although it is illegal to swim in the fountain, a 40-year-old  tourist known only as Roberta said to be from Milan did just that on 22 April 2007, saying "I was hot. The water belongs to everyone." The poor-quality photographs of her swim taken by a tourist quickly found their way into most Italian media and international news and websites as well.

Classical music
One of Respighi's Fontane di Roma.

A scene in the 1953 comedy Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, and Eddie Albert.
Three Coins in the Fountain.
A scene of drenching Anita Ekberg in Federico Fellini's La dolce vita.
A fictionalized filming of this scene in C'eravamo tanto amati.
Several scenes in The Lizzie McGuire Movie.
Several scenes in Sabrina Goes to Rome.
A few scenes in the Chinese series Triumph in the Skies
A scene in the 'Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen' Movie When in Rome.
A scene in the 2005 film Elsa y Fred where the same scene in La Dolce Vita is remade because of the title character's lifelong wish.
Bon Jovi's Thank You For Loving Me music video was filmed there.


Aerial view of Trevi Fountain.. Google Maps. Retrieved on August 6, 2007.The fountain is the blue rounded rectangle in the center of the photo, just west of the Quirinal Palace. Roman Bookshelf - Trevi Fountain - Views from the XVIII and XIX Century Trevi Fountain Virtual 360° panorama and photo gallery.
Trevi Fountain 360° iPIX panorama
Trevi Fountain Image gallery
Trevi Fountain Map
Engravings of the fountain's more modest predecessor.