If you ask a person to indicate the most famous fountain in the world, they will almost certainly answer you, Trevi Fountain in Rome. Scenic and majestic, she announces its presence already from the alleys leading to it: the noise of the water falling into the pools blends with the voices of tourists, intent on tossing the famous “coin of the return to Rome.”
Inaugurated in 19 B.C., the Trevi Fountain was designed by M. V. Agrippa and is a unique example of the ancient Roman aqueducts that have remained in operation since Augustus to the present day. Its name is probably due to the intersection of three roads or the triple outlet of the water.
A little history of the Trevi Fountain
In 1453 Pope Nicholas V started a work of order and restoration of the aqueduct following the projects of Leon Battista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellini, architects of the Virgin Water. According to legend, the name Acqua Vergine (Virgin Water) was given by Agrippa in memory of a young girl (virgo) who would indicate the place of the springs to the soldiers who went in search of them. The architects created a prospectus of the fountain embellished with an inscription with the coats of arms of the pontiff and the Roman people under which the water, emitted by three jets, collected in a rectangular basin.
In 1640 Urban VIII Barberini decided that the fountain should change its orientation and entrusted the project to Gian Lorenzo Bernini. However, the construction work was limited to the installation of a base with a basin in front of it in which three mouths of water meet. In 1732 Clement XII Corsini organized a competition for the arrangement of the Trevi Fountain in which the most important artists of the time took part. Among the projects of the architect Nicola Salvi, the pope preferred the most monumental one that could interfere little with the Palazzo Poli behind. Salvi, with great competence and professionalism, is in charge of the construction
works from 1732 until 1752, the year of his death, flanked by his great friend Luigi Vanvitelli.
What does the Trevi Fountain represent?
The central part of the façade of the Trevi Fountain develops like a triumphal arch, with a deep niche with Corinthian columns next to it. In the center of the attic, a large inscription recalls the creation of the fountain commissioned by Pope Clement XII, whose effigy is at the top. Four large statues from 1735 adorn the building itself and symbolize, from the left, the Abundance of Fruit by Agostino Corsini, the Fertility of the Fields by Bernardo Ludovisi, the Gifts of Autumn by Francesco Queirolo, and the Amenity of Meadows by Bartolomeo Pincellotti.
In the large central niche, there is the majestic statue of Ocean driving a chariot in the shape of a large shell, pulled by two winged sea horses, one rabid and the other peaceful, led by a young newt and a mature one that symbolize the different characteristics of nature and the ages of man.
The side parts of the large niche display the statues of Healthiness and Abundance by Filippo Della Valle. The reliefs depicting the Virgin showing the spring to the soldiers by Grossi and Agrippa agree to the aqueduct’s construction in Bergonzi. The official inauguration of the now finished Trevi Fountain took place on 22 May 1762.
Curiosity about the Trevi Fountain
The beautiful and surprising bath in the Trevi Fountain by Anita Ekberg in the evening dress in the movie “La dolce vita” made her famous worldwide. But how can we forget Totò, who in Tototruffa tries to sell it to a tourist? Every year the City of Rome obtains about 600 thousand euros from these coins, destined for Caritas Solidarity projects, even though the little thieves have equipped themselves with rubber bands to the end of which is tied a magnet.