Visit Rome: history behind Trevi Fountain

by Marzia Parmigiani
9 minutes read

Visit Rome

Visit Rome: history behind Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain located in Rome is a highly symbolic and iconic landmark of both Italy and the world. It embodies the country’s cultural and artistic values, serving as a magnificent example of the fusion of art and architecture.

Tourists who visit this place are left awestruck by the water’s celebration, the use of materials, and the changes it represents. The fountain’s beauty is a testament to the splendor of nature itself that embodies the essence of the city.

“You’d pick me up, so gently, as if I were a leaf, you didn’t want to crush. You’d carry me somewhere. And I’d curled into your arms, tiny as a stone”.

Lucy Christopher 

The reasons for visiting this place are countless. And it is impossible to explore Rome without pausing to admire the Trevi Fountain’s spellbinding beauty. Its grandeur can be seen from the Via del Corso and Via del Tritone, where tourists and locals alike come to appreciate its magnificence.

Unlike other beautiful attractions that lose their charm over time, the Trevi Fountain remains as breathtaking as ever. A short walk from the Pantheon, through the artistic streets of Rome, leads to the monument. Here visitors can experience the emotional intensity and splendor of the impetuous and sensual water striking against Bernini’s marble.

History behind Trevi Fountain: the sophistication of ancient Rome

Over the years, the Trevi Fountain has become a popular spot for celebrities and tourists to take magical photographs become iconic. In fact, visitors can enjoy a delicious meal of Pasta Carbonara while admiring period photos of the fountain’s history. Maybe tasting a good Italian Espresso coffee inside cafes in Piazza Navona or Trastevere. The landmark’s allure is such that it has even inspired the dawn of neo-realist art cinema in the 1950s.

The Trevi Fountain is a magnificent sight. It reminds us of the importance of the vital force that sustains life. Its architecture is a testament to the sophistication of ancient Rome and blends seamlessly into the cityscape.

History behind Trevi Fountain: legends

The fountain has a rich history: it reflects the evolution of Rome’s urban landscape. But one of the most enduring legends is that throwing a coin into the fountain with one’s back turned ensures a return to the city.

Another famous legend relates to a large vase, also known as the ace of cups. It was placed on the fountain’s side by its designer, Salvi. It is said that Salvi did so to block the view of a pesky barber who was interfering with his work. Although this legend may seem strange, it is not difficult to believe given the fountain’s storied past.

The history of the Trevi Fountain is intertwined with the birth of the Roman aqueduct, built in 19 BC under the direction of Marcus V. Agrippa. The aqueduct was a significant accomplishment for Rome. And it also led to the construction of public baths dedicated to Neptune.

The fountain’s water comes from Solon and his springs, and it’s named after a legend that means “virgin.” According to the tale, thirsty soldiers led to the source by a virgin who was thought to be the goddess Diana, were able to quench their thirst.

From the 8th century, they built a “minor” fountain that benefited from the aqueduct’s water. During the Middle Ages, the Curia controlled the water and ensured that citizens didn’t use it for their personal purposes.

History behind Trevi Fountain: Renaissance

The initial design of the fountain included three small basins facing Piazza dei Crociferi, which remained unchanged until 1453. The fountain’s restoration began during the Renaissance, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V, who asked Leon Battista Alberti to oversee the project. The vases were removed, and a large basin with three water spouts was installed. A significant inscription was visible that read, “Nicholas V Bridge”. In 1453, during the seventh year of his pontificate, he restored and beautifully adorned the dilapidated conduit of the Acqua Vergine at his own expense. He had already enriched the Urbe with distinguished monuments before this achievement.

Subsequently, the fountain was named Trejo’s, after the Trivio, which refers to the intersection of three streets.

An interesting fact is that the metro station closest to the Trevi Fountain is called Barberini, named after Pope Urban VIII Barberini. He later restored the fountain with Lorenzo Bernini because he found it beautiful and unique and could see it from his residence.

The costs of restoring the structure were exorbitant, leading to a sharp rise in taxes. Consequently, Urban VIII authorized Bernini to dismantle the sepulcher of Cecilia Matella, as its valuable marble could be salvaged.

However, Urban VIII and Bernini were not able to see the fountain completed. It was completed in 1762, as we know it today, thanks to Pope Clement XII, and designed by Salvi, who died prematurely, and Pannini.


There are also several inscriptions that commemorate those who contributed to the fountain’s improvement, such as Benedict XIV.

The Trevi Fountain as we know it today was completed in 1762, featuring a central statue of “Ocean” riding a shell-shaped chariot pulled by sea horses, symbolizing the calm and undulating sea. The group of statues, crafted by Pietro Bracci, includes one on the left representing abundance and the one on the right representing salubrity.

The bas-reliefs on the fountain portray the tale of Agrippa and the Roman Virgin presenting water to soldiers. The fountain culminates in an exquisite precipice, while the elevated borders symbolize the sea.

The Trevi Fountain has gained popularity as a location for film tourism. Especially after being featured in movies by renowned directors such as Fellini. The fountain scene in “La Dolce Vita” made Anita Ekberg an icon. And many have attempted to recreate the scene, even if it meant receiving heavy fines.

The fountain has also been featured in other films such as “C’eravamo tanto amati”. And “Lost in Translation,” where characters watched the famous scene from “La Dolce Vita” on television. In Fellini’s “L’intervista,” the fountain scene is replayed in Ekberg’s living room and projected by Mastroianni.

The Bottom line about Trevi fountain

Trevi Fountain is a mesmerizing sight that should not be missed. Whether you arrive at the Barberini metro station or explore the heart of Rome on foot, you will be treated to a captivating outdoor spectacle.

You can either opt for a guided tour to fully experience it or rely on the information provided in this article.

Remember to toss a coin into the fountain as a traditional gesture for good luck and a promise to return to this enchanting Italian city! Follow our blog to discover interesting content and learn about LCN App.

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