The Trevi Fountain, or Fontana di Trevi in Italian, is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. It stands more than 85 feet high and more than 65 feet wide. It is truly an amazing sight to see.
The fountain marks the ending point of an aqueduct discovered in 19BC. To this day, it brings water to Rome from a spring some 20 km outside the city. Legend has it, a virgin girl led Agrippa’s soldiers to the spring and showed them the source of pure water. The aqueduct is known as Aqua Virgo, named so because of the virgin girl who revealed the water source. It is said the water was originally brought into the city to supply water to Marcus Agrippa’s baths located near the
Pantheon he built.
The first fountain built to mark the ending point of the aqueduct was commissioned by Pope Nicholas V in the mid 15th century. Over time the aqueduct made to supply water to Agrippa’s baths was turned off, and the fountain was built to celebrate the reactivation of the ancient aqueduct.
The first fountain just wasn’t elaborate enough, and Pope Clement XII commissioned Nicola Salvi to build a new fountain in its place. Salvi began work on the new fountain in 1732, and worked to build it until his death in 1751. Work was taken over by Giuseppe Pannini and was completed in 1762.
There is no exact reference from where the name of the Trevi Fountain derives, although it is thought the word Trevi comes from the Latin word trivium, meaning a crossing of three streets. The fountain is located in Piazza di Trevi, which is the meeting point for three streets…Via De’ Crocicchi, Via Poli and Via Delle Muratte. Since neither of the streets have a direct approach to the piazza, you will hear the sounds of the rushing water before you are able to see the magnificent fountain.
The grand fountain features a beautifully embellished scene. The central figure, sculpted by Pietro Bracci, is Oceanus, god of all water. Oceanus is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell, which is pulled by two sea horses and led by Tritons. The horses represent the ever changing nature of the sea. One is calm and the other is restless. To the left of Oceanus sits the statue of Abundance, and to the right sits the
statue of Health (or Salubrity). Abundance holds the horn of plenty filled with fruits and has a vase of water spilling at her feet. Health wears a wreath of laurel on her head and holds a cup from which a snake drinks. Above each statue is a relief. The relief above Abundance depicts Agrippa commanding his soldiers to build the aqueduct, and the relief above Health depicts the virgin showing the water source to the soldiers.
Be sure to toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain when you visit to ensure your return to Rome. Legend is to throw two coins into the fountain, one for your wish to return, and the second to ensure your wish comes true. For the Fates to line up just right, you are supposed to throw the coins over your left shoulder with your right hand. Not only will the coins you toss into the fountain ensure your return to Rome, they will also be used by a program to help feed Rome’s poor. Legend aside, the fountain is beautiful, and definitely worth a visit!
Try to visit the fountain both during the day and at night when it glows with lights. Both visits will be a unique experience. There are several gelaterias
(ice cream shops) right around the fountain area. The Trevi Fountain is the perfect place to stop for a treat, listen to the water and admire one of Rome’s great treasures.
The fountain is always open for visitors, and there is no admission fee.
Piazza di Trevi
By Metro – Take Metro line A to Barberini-Fontana di Trevi. The fountain is about a 5 minute walk away from the metro exit.
By Bus – Bus numbers 52, 53, 61, 62, 63, 71 and 95.
*Note: The streets leading to the fountain are far too narrow for buses to pass. Public transportation will bring you within proximity to the fountain, but you will need to walk to arrive to the piazza where the fountain is located.