The Trevi Fountain, or Fontana di Trevi, is not only Rome’s largest and most famous fountain, but also a stunning Baroque masterpiece that attracts millions of visitors from around the world each year. Nestled between the Fori Romani and the busy Roman streets, this breathtaking monument is a must-see for anyone visiting the Eternal City.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the history, design, and fascinating legends surrounding the Trevi Fountain. We’ll also provide useful information about visiting hours and costs, as well as tips on how to make the most of your Trevi Fountain experience.
A Rich and Fascinating History
The Trevi Fountain was built at the endpoint of the ancient Aqua Virgo Aqueduct, which was constructed in 19 BC by Marcus Agrippa to supply fresh water to Rome. The aqueduct was named after a legend that a young virgin girl led the Roman technicians to a pure water source outside the city, which later became the source of the Aqua Virgo. Over time, several small fountains were built along the endpoint of the aqueduct, but it was not until the 18th century that the idea of a grand, monumental fountain was conceived.
In 1730, Pope Clement XII organized a design competition for a new fountain at the site. The contest was won by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, who proposed a dramatic Baroque-style design featuring a large, theatrical backdrop against which the water would cascade. Salvi began construction in 1732, but it was only completed in 1762 by Giuseppe Pannini, 11 years after Salvi’s death.
A Masterpiece of Baroque Design
The Trevi Fountain is a prime example of the Baroque style, characterized by its dynamic and theatrical compositions, ornate decorations, and a strong sense of movement. The fountain’s design is dominated by a large, rocky cliff face against which the water flows, creating an impressive and dramatic backdrop.
At the center of the fountain stands Oceanus, the god of all water, riding a shell-shaped chariot pulled by two powerful sea horses, one calm and the other agitated, representing the dual nature of the sea.
These sea horses are guided by two Tritons, mythical sea creatures that symbolize the fountain’s connection to the ocean. Above Oceanus, a statue of Abundance spills water from her urn, while another statue, Salubrity, holds a cup from which a snake drinks, symbolizing health and well-being.
The fountain’s design is also rich in allegorical references, such as the relief sculptures representing Agrippa approving the plans of the aqueduct and the virgin girl showing the source of the Aqua Virgo. The combination of these artistic elements and the monumental scale of the fountain creates a powerful and immersive experience for visitors.
Legends and Traditions
The Trevi Fountain is shrouded in legends and traditions that have captivated the imaginations of visitors for centuries. The most famous of these is the coin tossing ritual. It is said that if you toss a coin over your left shoulder with your right hand into the fountain, you will ensure your return to Rome. A second coin promises a new romance, while a third coin leads to marriage.
Every day, thousands of tourists perform this ritual, generating a significant amount of revenue. The coins collected from the fountain are used to fund charitable projects in Rome, such as supporting food banks and social services for those in need. This tradition was popularized by the 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain and has since become an iconic part of the Trevi Fountain experience.
Another fascinating legend tells of the “Ace of Cups”, a small, hidden fountain located nearby, which is said to provide water that can heal heartaches and bring love to those who drink it. This romantic spot has also been featured in movies and literature, adding to the allure and mystique of the Trevi Fountain area.
Visiting the Trevi Fountain: Hours and Costs
The Trevi Fountain is located in the heart of Rome and is easily accessible by public transportation, with the nearest metro station being Barberini on Line A. The fountain is also within walking distance of other popular tourist attractions, such as the Spanish Steps and the Fori Romani.
The fountain is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and there is no entrance fee. However, it’s important to note that it can get crowded during peak tourist seasons and at certain times of the day. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting early in the morning or late in the evening when the fountain is beautifully illuminated.
While you’re there, don’t forget to toss your coin(s) into the fountain to ensure your return to Rome and possibly even find love or marriage.
Tips for a Memorable Experience
- To fully appreciate the beauty and intricacies of the Trevi Fountain’s design, consider joining a guided tour. Many companies offer walking tours of Rome that include a stop at the fountain, providing in-depth information about its history, art, and legends.
- Be respectful of the local culture and regulations when visiting the Trevi Fountain. It is prohibited to sit on the edge of the fountain, swim in the water, or remove coins from the fountain.
- Capture your Trevi Fountain experience by taking photos or videos, but be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings, as pickpocketing can be an issue in crowded tourist areas.
- Nearby, you’ll find many charming cafés, gelaterias, and restaurants where you can sample authentic Italian cuisine while enjoying a view of the fountain. For a more in-depth exploration of the area, consider booking a Rome Food Tour that includes a visit to the Trevi Fountain.
The Trevi Fountain in famous Films
The Trevi Fountain has served as an enchanting backdrop in numerous famous films, capturing the hearts of moviegoers and showcasing its romantic and magical allure.
One of the most iconic appearances is in the 1954 romantic comedy Three Coins in the Fountain, which popularized the coin tossing tradition and beautifully captures the fountain’s mesmerizing charm.
Another notable film is Federico Fellini’s 1960 masterpiece, La Dolce Vita, where the unforgettable scene of Anita Ekberg wading into the fountain in a black evening gown captivated audiences and further solidified the fountain’s status as a symbol of Roman glamour and sensuality.
More recently, the Trevi Fountain played a starring role in the 2010 film Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts, as the protagonist embarks on a journey of self-discovery and embraces the magic of Rome at this iconic monument. These films, among others, have contributed to the Trevi Fountain’s enduring fame and have immortalized its enchanting beauty on the silver screen.
Exploring Monuments Near the Trevi Fountain
Beyond the awe-inspiring Trevi Fountain, the surrounding area boasts a wealth of historical and cultural monuments that add to the allure of this iconic Roman neighborhood.
Just a short walk away, you’ll find the magnificent Quirinal Palace, the official residence of the Italian President, featuring beautifully landscaped gardens and an impressive art collection.
Nearby, the Church of Saint Vincent and Anastasius (Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi) showcases stunning Baroque architecture, intricate frescoes, and a unique crypt containing the embalmed hearts of various popes. Venturing a little further, the elegant Spanish Steps provide a lively meeting point and the perfect spot to rest and soak up Rome’s vibrant atmosphere.
Finally, the ancient ruins of the Fori Romani transport you back in time, offering a glimpse into the heart of the once-mighty Roman Empire. A visit to the Trevi Fountain provides an ideal opportunity to explore these nearby treasures, creating a memorable and enriching experience in the Eternal City.
Savoring Rome: Top Restaurants Near the Trevi Fountain
In the vicinity of the Trevi Fountain, you’ll find a delightful selection of restaurants that serve authentic and mouth-watering Italian cuisine, perfect for indulging your taste buds after marveling at the iconic fountain.
One notable option is Piccolo Arancio, known for its delicious pasta dishes and cozy, traditional atmosphere. Another gem is Osteria Barberini, offering a variety of Italian classics, including an outstanding truffle-based menu. For a unique dining experience, consider Ristorante Sora Lucia, a historic establishment that has been serving local Roman dishes for over a century.
Seafood lovers should not miss Tempio di Iside, where you can enjoy fresh, expertly prepared Mediterranean seafood. Lastly, be sure to visit one of the many nearby gelaterias, such as the famous Gelateria Valentino, to treat yourself to some of Rome’s finest gelato.
These restaurants, among others, provide the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in Rome’s culinary delights while relishing the enchanting atmosphere near the Trevi Fountain.
The Trevi Fountain is a mesmerizing blend of history, art, and legend that has captivated visitors for centuries. With its stunning Baroque design and fascinating stories, this iconic landmark is a must-visit when in Rome. Be sure to follow our tips to make the most of your Trevi Fountain experience, and don’t forget to toss a coin to ensure your return to the Eternal City.