De Trevi Fontein: Unveiling Rome’s Iconic Masterpiece

Nestled in the bustling heart of Rome, the Trevi Fountain or as Italians call it, “Fontana di Trevi,” stands as a masterpiece of Baroque art and one of the most famous fountains in the world. My fascination with this iconic landmark began years ago when I first laid eyes on its magnificent sculptures and gushing waters. It’s not just a fountain; it’s a symbol of history, artistry, and legend that continues to captivate visitors from around the globe.

Built at the terminus of the ancient Aqua Virgo aqueduct which dates back to 19 BC, the Trevi Fountain has served Rome with fresh water for more than two millennia. The stunning design we see today was completed in 1762 by architect Nicola Salvi and truly reflects an era when artistic expression was as extravagant as it was exquisite. With its dramatic statues including Oceanus, Tritons, and horses representing sea moods—it’s easy to understand why people are drawn to this spectacular site.

Each year millions toss coins into its waters following a tradition that promises a return trip to Rome – I’ve done so myself and can attest to the charm of participating in such an enduring ritual. But beyond superstition lies real impact; these coins are collected regularly and donated to charity making each visitor’s wish part of something bigger. Whether you’re marveling at its beauty or uncovering its layers of history, there’s no denying that Fontana di Trevi is much more than mere decoration—it’s an integral piece of Roman heritage that continues to enchant those who witness it.

History and Background of the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain, known as ‘Fontana di Trevi’ in Italian, stands as one of Rome’s most beloved monuments with a history as captivating as its design. Its construction was completed in 1762 and has since been an emblem of Baroque artistry. The fountain marks the terminal point of the ancient Aqua Virgo aqueduct, which was commissioned by Augustus and completed by Agrippa in 19 BC to supply water to the Roman baths.

Nicola Salvi began designing this masterpiece in 1732 under the commission of Pope Clement XII. After Salvi’s death, Giuseppe Pannini took over the project and saw it through to completion three decades later. It’s said that competing artists played tricks on Salvi to secure their own designs for the fountain, but ultimately his vision prevailed.

Legend intertwines with the Trevi’s waters; it’s believed that tossing a coin into the fountain ensures a return to Rome. This tradition stems from an ancient Roman custom where people would throw coins into water to please the gods and guarantee safe travel. Today, nearly €1 million is collected annually from within its marble confines which supports local charitable endeavors.

The fountain features various mythological figures sculpted into its façade: Oceanus rides a chariot shaped like a shell pulled by Tritons while horses represent sea moods—calm and tempestuous. These depictions embody movement and power much like water itself.

Over time, maintenance has been crucial to preserve this historic site amidst environmental wear and tourist traffic. The most recent restoration occurred in 2015 when Fendi, an Italian luxury fashion house, sponsored a thorough cleaning and repair process ensuring that visitors can enjoy its splendor for years to come.

Year Event
19 BC Completion of Aqua Virgo aqueduct
1732 Nicola Salvi begins designing Trevi Fountain
1762 Completion of Trevi Fountain’s construction
  • Ancient Significance: Recognized even today as part of Rome’s intricate history.
  • Artistic Marvel: A showcase for Baroque artistry.
  • Cultural Impact: Continues shaping traditions and supporting philanthropy.
  • Preservation Efforts: Necessary for sustaining this iconic landmark’s future.

With these historical insights into Fontana di Trevi or the Trevi Fountain one sees not just an architectural milestone but also centuries-old tales preserved in stone and water right at heart of modern-day Rome.

Architectural Features of the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain, known as Fontana di Trevi in Italian, stands as a masterpiece of Baroque art with its detailed sculptures and grand design. I’m always struck by its sheer size at 85 feet high and 65 feet wide, making it the largest baroque fountain in Rome and one of the most famous fountains in the world.

Nicola Salvi’s design was completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762 and truly captures the extravagance of the Baroque period. The central figure is Oceanus, god of all water, riding a shell-shaped chariot led by Tritons with sea horses – one wild and one docile – representing the moods of the sea. Above him are bas-reliefs that depict Agrippa commanding his generals to build his aqueducts, linking history to mythology seamlessly.

Surrounding Oceanus are Abundance spilling water from her urn and Health holding a cup from which a snake drinks. These allegorical statues complement each other symbolizing prosperity brought forth through pure waters.

  • Central theme: The interaction between humans and nature
  • Allegory: Prosperity (Abundance) and well-being (Health) resultant from clean water
  • Dominant figures: Oceanus, Tritons, Sea Horses

The architecture also includes multiple Corinthian columns and triumphal arches that frame the composition gloriously. Water cascades from several sources adding movement to an already dynamic structure while inscriptions pay homage to Pope Clement XII who commissioned the work.

Element Description
Architect Nicola Salvi
Completion Giuseppe Pannini (1762)
Height 85 feet
Width 65 feet
Style Baroque

Intricate details like carved seashells marble vegetation along with coins scattered on its basin floor add layers of texture both visually and narratively because as legend has it tossing a coin ensures your return to Rome. It’s these features combined that make standing before Trevi an experience where artistry meets mythology enveloped within architectural brilliance.

Symbolism and Meaning behind the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain, known as Fontana di Trevi in Italian, is more than just an architectural marvel; it’s a tapestry of myths, legends, and symbolism. At its heart is the statue of Oceanus, the god of all water sources in classical mythology. Flanked by tritons and horses that represent the moods of the sea, this central figure embodies the might and majesty of oceans.

  • Oceanus: Represents vastness and power
  • Tritons: Symbolize navigation; one tames a seahorse, illustrating control over unruly nature
  • Horses: Stand for contrasting states of the sea – calm and turbulent

This monumental baroque masterpiece also pays homage to Rome’s historical relationship with water. It was at the end point of Aqua Virgo, an ancient aqueduct that supplied Roman baths and fountains for over 400 years. The facade above Oceanus depicts Agrippa commanding his generals to build the aqueduct after a virgin showed them a source of pure water.

  • Historical Context:
    • Aqua Virgo: Originated in 19BC
    • Virgin’s revelation: Led to discovery of spring supplying Aqua Virgo

Designed by Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762, every sculpture on Trevi’s facade tells a story. Abundance spills out from her urn while Health holds a cup from which a snake drinks—both symbolizing benefits brought forth by clean water.

  • Allegorical Statues:
    • Abundance (or Plenty): Ushers prosperity through bountiful resources
    • Health (or Salubrity): Conveys well-being via access to freshwater

Embedded deep within Rome’s cultural psyche are traditions involving the fountain. One such tradition promises that tossing coins into its waters ensures your return to Rome. According to this custom:

  1. Throw one coin: You’ll come back to Rome.
  2. Toss two coins: A new romance will blossom.
  3. Fling three coins: Marriage or divorce is on cards.

Each year thousands participate in this ritual contributing to an estimated annual collection exceeding €1 million which supports charitable activities across Rome.

  • Coin Ritual Statistics:
Coins Thrown Outcome Predicted
One Return to Rome
Two New Romance
Three Marriage or Divorce

Statistics aside my visit there couldn’t exclude participating in this age-old tradition! As I flicked my coin over my shoulder I wondered about those who stood here centuries before me each weaving their own hopes into its watery canvas—it truly felt like I was partaking in something timeless!

Popular Myths and Legends Associated with the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain isn’t just a marvel of baroque artistry; it’s also shrouded in fascinating myths and legends that add to its allure. One of the most popular tales involves throwing coins into the water. Legend says if you toss one coin over your left shoulder with your right hand, you’ll ensure your return to Rome. Throw two coins, and you might just meet an attractive Italian. Toss three, and according to legend, wedding bells could be in your future.

  • One Coin: Return to Rome
  • Two Coins: New romance
  • Three Coins: Marriage

This tradition has become so ingrained that it contributes a significant sum to charity each year. The city collects the coins nightly and donates them to Caritas, a Catholic charity that supports causes like a supermarket program for Rome’s needy population.

Another captivating story from the fountain’s waters is the legend of La Befana, an old woman who brings gifts to children throughout Italy on January 5th, Epiphany Eve. Some say she passes through Rome and blesses the waters of Trevi for good luck in the coming year.

For those with darker curiosities, there’s also the tale of Salvi’s ghost. Nicola Salvi was the original architect behind this masterpiece but he died before seeing his vision fully realized. Whispers among locals suggest that Salvi’s spirit roams around his creation at night overseeing its beauty and perhaps lamenting his untimely departure.

And let’s not forget about love seekers! A somewhat modern myth is tied into romantic films set in Rome where couples drink from a small fountain called ‘La Fontanina’ situated at the left side of Trevi Fountain. They say if lovers drink from it they will remain faithful to each other forever.

These stories transform mere visits into timeless experiences as people partake in these rituals hoping some magic dust rubs off onto their lives.

Cultural Significance and Impact of the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain isn’t just a masterpiece of baroque art; it’s a symbol deeply ingrained in Roman culture and beyond. Over the years, this iconic fountain has become synonymous with Rome’s centuries-old history and its tradition of artistic patronage. It was completed in 1762 by Nicola Salvi and has since been an emblem of the city’s rich heritage. The fountain marks the terminal point of one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to Ancient Rome, making it a historical endpoint to one of humanity’s earliest engineering marvels.

Legends woven around the Trevi Fountain have contributed significantly to its cultural impact. Most notably is the belief that if visitors throw a coin over their shoulder into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. This tradition grew immensely popular after it was featured in films like ‘Three Coins in the Fountain’ (1954) and ‘La Dolce Vita’ (1960). As per estimates:

Year Amount Collected
Pre-2020 ~€1.5 million
Post-2020 Data not steady due to travel restrictions

Note: Amounts are collected annually from coins thrown into the fountain.

This gathered fortune is used for charity work, underlining how cultural practices can be harnessed for social good.

The influence of this grand structure extends into various forms of media as well. Literary works, cinematic pieces, music videos – all have drawn inspiration from its grandeur. Tourists flocking to capture moments with its cascading waters create an atmosphere where international cultures mingle against an Italian backdrop.

Moreover, my research indicates that local businesses thrive because of this monument’s presence; souvenir shops, restaurants, and hotels often see increased patronage from those visiting Trevi exclusively. Its image on postcards or magnets is found across Italy as tourists take home tangible memories attached with dreams stitched by myths surrounding this enchanting site.

As I reflect on my own experience standing before its majestic sprays, I realize how such landmarks carry more than aesthetic value—they’re vessels carrying stories through time while nurturing economies around them with every splash and wish made.


Wrapping up my exploration of the Trevi Fountain, I’ve delved into its rich history, stunning architecture, and cultural significance. It’s not just a monument; it’s a piece of living history that continues to captivate visitors from around the world.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • The Trevi Fountain is an exemplary work of Baroque art.
  • Nicola Salvi’s design has stood the test of time as a symbol of Rome’s grandeur.
  • Legends like throwing coins into the water add to its mystique and allure.

The fountain isn’t merely for show. It plays a pivotal role in Rome’s culture and day-to-day life. Here’s how:

  • It contributes to local commerce through tourism.
  • The fountain remains an iconic backdrop for films and media, reinforcing its global image.

My visit to this majestic fountain was more than just ticking off an item on my travel bucket list. It was about connecting with a piece of Rome’s soul—understanding that every statue, every carved detail tells a story spanning centuries.

So what can you expect when visiting the Trevi Fountain? Prepare for awe-inspiring beauty, a touch of magic with every coin toss, and an unforgettable slice of Italian heritage. Don’t forget your camera because you’ll want to capture every moment at this historical marvel!

To anyone planning their first or next visit to Rome, make sure the Trevi Fountain is on your itinerary. You won’t regret experiencing one of Italy’s most treasured landmarks firsthand!