Coin-throwing at the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the centre of Rome to which most tourists pay particular attention when they visit the city. Standing 26 metres high and 49 metres wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city, as well as being one of the most famous fountains in the world.



Legend holds that in 19BC, thirsty Roman soldiers were guided by a young girl to a source of pure water thirteen kilometres from the city of Rome. The discovery of the source led Augustus to commission the construction of an aqueduct leading to the city in honour of the legendary young girl. The aqueduct served the hot Baths of Agrippa, and Rome, for over four hundred years. Nowadays, part of the aqueduct is what tourists see before them here at Trevi Fountain. After a lot of reconstruction over the past couple of years, which closed the fountain to the legions of tourists that flocked here, the Trevi Fountain is now back open fully – and I think it looks better than ever!

Trevi Fountain in summer 2015
Trevi Fountain in summer 2015

To be honest, it was not just the water of the fountain that I came to see, as like pretty much anywhere else in Rome, the Trevi Fountain has amazing décor in neoclassical style. The backdrop to the Trevi Fountain is the Palazzo Poli, given a new façade 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. In the centre a robustly-modelled triumphal arch is superimposed on the palazzo façade. In the niches flanking Oceanus, 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, whereas the tritons and horses provide symmetrical balance, with the maximum contrast in their mood and poses.

Coin throwing into the fountain
Coin throwing into the fountain

Coins are purportedly meant to be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder. I thought it was a little bit like throwing salt over the shoulder, but nonetheless it was interesting to see people partaking in this tradition. An estimated 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day and this money has been used to subsidise food, drink, and shelter for underprivileged people in Rome, although no doubt there are regular attempts to steal the coins from the fountain, and with a lack of security around, I guess anyone could theoretically do this.

As part of a self-guided walking tour of Rome, I did the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon all in the same day. All 4 attractions were fairly close together (well, I walked it!) and none of them cost me any money to see – why can’t London be this simple?!


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