No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the most beautiful fountain in the world, the Trevi Fountain. Both for its allegorical beauty and its historical importance, it is well worth spending some time contemplating it.
As one of the most visited places in Rome and probably one of the attractions where it is easiest to have a less than perfect experience, I have written this guide with everything you need to know before visiting the famous Trevi Fountain: its history, its artistic explanation and, most importantly, a series of tips to make the most of it.
When and how to visit the Trevi Fountain: tips & tricks
Twice as good as one
Visit it twice, once during the day and once at night. At dawn, there won't be many tourists and you'll be able to enjoy the fountain in all its splendour, and after midnight the place will have a special aura with the beautiful illumination of the Trevi Fountain.
How to avoid mass tourism
Whatever you do, don't visit the fountain at one in the afternoon or at the end of the day, you will be met with a throng of tourists who will probably ruin your experience.
Watch out for pickpockets
Of all the sites in Rome, it is especially necessary to be careful with your purse, backpack or wallet. Because it is such a small space, with so many unwary tourists, there will be pickpockets wandering around if it gets a bit crowded. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times and especially to your belongings so that you don't get ripped off.
Don't fall into tourist traps
Beware also of people offering to take a photo of you in the fountain, as they will want to charge you for it afterwards, and if you tell them not to, they can get very annoying.
Don't try to "enter" the water (and be forewarned, be forearmed)
It probably goes without saying, but you can't bathe in the water of the Trevi Fountain like in the iconic scene from 'La dolce vita'. Well, if you can, you can, and you can take a photo if you want to, but the 'entrance' fee is a €500 fine. In case you're thinking of taking the risk, do it right: it's best to do it in the early hours of the morning, when the fountain will be more beautiful and there will be fewer tourists and police around.
Where to find and how to get to the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is located in the square of the same name, which can be reached from several nearby streets: Via del Corso, Via del Tritone and Via della Dataria.
The nearest metro station is at Piazza Barberini. From here, head west on Via del Tritone until you reach Via della Stamperia, and down the street you will come to Piazza di Trevi, one of Rome's most beautiful squares.
All about the tradition of throwing coins
Travelling is one of the best ways to discover little customs and traditions of places around the world, and the tradition of throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain is one of my favourites of all the places I have visited. There can be no better occasion than to quote the famous proverb of St. Augustine that derived into the famous Anglo-Saxon saying When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
How to do it
The custom is to stand with your back to the water in the fountain and, with your right hand, toss a coin over your left shoulder. This will ensure that you will return to Rome at some future point in your life. But if you toss a second coin, legend has it that you will find love (or fall in love with an Italian person, depending on the version), and with a third coin, you will be assured of a marriage or divorce.
The origin of this tradition
Butwhere does this tradition come from? I imagined that it was an ancient legend, with its origins in some pagan superstition, but no: coin tossing began after the premiere of the film Three Coins in the Fountain in 1954, which defined the tradition with all its particularities.
What they do with the money collected
Logically, as popular as the tradition of throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain is, a lot of money ends up at the bottom. Around 3,000 euros are collected from the fountain every night and donated to Caritas, a Catholic charity that provides services to needy families in Rome.
What to see near the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is an ideal place to visit as part of a tour of Rome, as it is on the way to many of the main sights of the city centre.
Here are some Rome tourist attractions that you can take the opportunity to see on the same day as a visit to the Trevi Fountain:
Piazza di Spagna
With its famous set of stairs and beautiful Fontana della Barcaccia, the Piazza di Spagna is a very pleasant place to visit especially in spring and summer when the stairs are full of floral decorations.
Location of the Fontana del Tritone, one of the most beautiful fountains in Rome, and Palazzo Barberini, of great historical importance as the residence of Pope Urban VIII, is well worth a visit and a stroll around.
This building is the best preserved of Ancient Rome, and is quite a sight to be hold both inside and out. A free visit that you have to include in your top things to do on your trip to Rome.
Piazza Navona is one of **Rome'**s most important squares, where you can see three beautiful fountains and visit the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in the area, which is always bustling with street performers and a constant stream of tourists and locals.
A bit of history about the Fountain
The architecture of the Roman Empire always had the maxim of being of use to the citizenry. The fountains in the city of Rome had the function of indicating a place to obtain drinking water for drinking, cooking and cleaning, but in the case of the Trevi Fountain, like other fountains built during the Baroque period in Rome, these monuments also had the function of worshipping water and enhancing its symbolism of purity and renewal.
This is why the fountain on the site of the Trevi Fountain was renovated at the request of Pope Urban VIII in 1629, to become the marvellous work of art that we can admire today.
The pope entrusted the commission to the artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, under his patronage, and Bernini began his original design; however, the project was abandoned on the pope's death and it was not until 1730, a century later, that Pope Clement XII chose the architect Nicola Salvi to finish the famous fountain. Incidentally, the Trevi Fountain gets its name from the fact that it is located at a "three-way" crossroads, something you will see for yourself when you visit.
What does the Trevi Fountain represent?
The Trevi Fountain is a marvellous work of art that is not part of a museum exhibition, nor is it part of a monarch's private collection, nor is it housed in a church. What makes it so special is that it stands in the middle of the city ready to be admired by anyone who walks past it, and if you visit it in the company of an expert on a guided tour of Rome you can discover all the secrets that its sculptures hold.
Initiated by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the great architect and sculptor to whom Rome owes much of its beauty, and finished by Nicola Salvi, the Trevi Fountain is an allegory of the taming of the sea, with a series of symbols and allegories hidden in its various sculptures.
In the centre of the fountain, in the main niche, is the statue of Oceanus, the god of the sea, on a chariot drawn by two sea horses, one agitated and the other calm, representing the two states of the sea.
To the left of Oceanus is the statue of Abundance, holding a cornucopia and above which is a relief depicting General Agrippa ordering the construction of the Acqua Virgo aqueduct, which carried water to this source. The origin of the aqueduct's name, according to legend, comes from a maiden who indicated to Agrippa the location of the spring over which the Trevi Fountain stands today.
To the right of the fountain, the statue of Health (or well-being) holds a cup from which a snake is drinking, the Cup of Hygieia, a traditional symbol of the pharmacist.
Crowning the Trevi Fountain are four statues representing the beneficial effects of water on the Earth, symbolising abundance, fertility, the grape harvest and wine and the beauty of Nature.
Something that many people don't realise is that the grandeur of the fountain is due to the façade of the Palazzo Poli, which gives that spectacular backdrop to the elements that make up the fountain itself.