What is the Trevi Fountain?

The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s great treasures, as it is considered the most spectacular and recognisable fountain in the world. Standing at 85 feet tall and 65 feet wide this massive structure brings herds of travellers to its waters to see the stunning work of art. It is a large fountain, displaying white stone sculptures and cascading blue waters. The fountain was recently restored by the luxury fashion house, Fendi, so it is a wonderful sight to behold.

Trevi Fountain

The History of Trevi Fountain

The fountain has a rich history, its basic structure being built during Ancient Roman times in 19BC. It stands at the joining of three separate roads and was a marking endpoint to one of the city’s earliest aqueducts. This resulted in its famous name- Fontana Di Trevi, which translates to the three-street fountain.

Dating back to ancient Roman times, the fountain was the terminal point of one of the city’s aqueducts. Legend has it that a young maiden revealed the source of water to Roman soldiers. Augustus then ordered the 22km long aqueduct to be built. The upper levels of the fountain depict this scene.

In 1629, Pope Urban VIII was unimpressed by the ancient design and ordered it to be expanded upon. He felt that the fountain lacked impact and desired a greater monument with more dramatic flair. The famous sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini was assigned to the project but the plan did not go ahead since the Pope died before it could begin.

A hundred years later the project was restarted and the architect chosen for the fountain was from a competition. The winner, Alessandro Galilei, ended up being disqualified, as there was an uproar in the capital for Galilei being Florentine. The roman Nicola Salvi, who won second place, ended up being the architect and took inspiration from Bernini’s original sketches. The fountain took 30 years to complete and was finished in 1762. Unfortunately, Salvi died in 1751 and Giuseppe Pannini stepped in to complete the work after his passing.

The Fountain’s Artwork

The Artwork of Trevi Fountain

The reconstruction involved mainly the design and construction of the fountain’s artwork. The design revolved around three architectural elements, both the frontage and sea reef are made of travertine stone, and the statues are made of carrara marble. The theme of the fountain is ‘Taming of the Waters,’ with each statue and section symbolising a concept. In the centre is a statue of God Oceanus, standing on a chariot pulled by two seahorses. One of the seahorses is calm and passive whilst the other is wild and restless, both symbolising the changing temper of the sea. The seahorses are each guided by a Triton; a half-human, half mermaid-like creature.

Either side of Oceanus are female statues. To the left is a woman with a seashell full of fruit which represents abundance. On the right the woman allows a snake to drink water from a cup, symbolising health. These statues are also supposed to represent the different aspects of the sea. At the top of the fountain is the Papal Coat of Arms, which is suspended by angels.

Bernini and his fountains

Whilst it was Nicola Salvi that finalised the design for the Trevi fountain, he based his designs on the earlier plans made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini’s fountains are scattered amongst the streets of Rome and we can credit him with some of the most beautiful of the city’s structures. Take a tour of Rome by following the amazing works made by this sensational sculptor and see why Rome is known as an ‘open-air museum’.

If you take a 10-minute walk east from the Trevi fountain you will find yourself at Fontana del Tritone (1642) at Piazza Barberini. This fountain shows Triton spurting water through a conch shell whilst sitting in a scallop shell supported by dolphins. This mythical scene is a powerful one and will give you an insight into the spectacular imagination of Bernini. Nearby is the far simpler design of Fontana delle Api (1644). Built to regulate the flow of Fontana del Tritone, this uncomplicated design displays Bernini’s ability to make even the basic beautiful.

Other wonderful Bernini fountains include the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona which features an Egyptian obelisk emerging from its centre and Fontana della Barcaccia that lies at the foot of the Spanish Steps. Fontana della Barcaccia looks like a half-sunken ship, spilling water back into the sea. This was inspired by a flood that submerged Rome in 1598 supposedly leaving a broken ship in the piazza once the waters had subsided.

More sculptures by Bernini can be found within Rome’s galleries and churches such as Galleria Borghese, the church of San Francesco a Ripa and in St. Peter’s Square and Basilica.

The Trevi Fountain’s Tradition

Trevi Fountain, Italy

By far the biggest appeal to the Trevi Fountain is the renowned traditional of coin throwing. It is said if you throw a coin from your right hand over your left shoulder into the fountain, it will ensure your return to Rome one day. Two coins will ensure a new romance, and three will guarantee marriage. So have a shot and see if the coin works for you, as no trip to Rome is complete without a visit to this iconic Trevi Fountain.

Around €3,000 is tossed into the fountain each year with all of it being donated to charity so no matter what your coin throw brings, it will do good!

Where You Can See the Trevi Fountain?

The fountain is located in Rome’s historic centre, Via delle Muratte. Simply stroll through the bustling small streets, hopping off your bus, train, scooter, car, before entering these streets which restrict any large vehicles from entering the area. To hear more about each stature’s meaning and history, we suggest taking a tour so you can learn all the fountain’s secrets.

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