History & Facts
As you emerge from the narrow cobble stone streets that open into Trevi Square you will be greeted by the breathtaking site of the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi), one of the largest and most beautiful statues in the world.
The Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi in Italian) in Rome is located in the heart of Rome’s historic center and is a site that should not be missed by anyone visiting Rome.
The Trevi Fountain is located at the meeting of three roads (tre vie).
Who Built Trevi Fountain & When Was It Built?
The fountain was built at the end of an aqueduct (Aqua Virgo) that was constructed in 19BC. The Aqua Virgo was built by Augustus’s son-in-law Agrippa to supply water for the Roman Baths. The water for the fountain comes from the Salone Springs about 14 miles outside of Rome.
Pope Urban VIII originally commissioned Bernini to build the Trevi Fountain, however, Pope Urban VIII died prior to completion of the fountain and the project was stopped. A century after the original plan was abandoned Pope Clement XII commissioned Nicola Salvi in 1732 to design a fountain to be built in Trevi Square. Salvi’s design uses many of the elements in Bernini’s original design. The statue took 30 years to complete.
The fountain is a Baroque design and stands 85 feet high and 65 feet wide. The central figure in the fountain is Neptune, god of the sea. Neptune is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell that is pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One horse is calm the other is enraged; each symbolizes the moods of the sea.
To the left of Neptune is a statue representing Abundance, on the right a statue represents Health. The water at the bottom of the fountain represents the sea.
Trevi Fountain Coin Toss Tradition – Make a Wish
Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the fountain with your right hand over your right shoulder you will return to Rome.
16 Trevi Fountain Fun Facts at a Glance
#1: Fact – The fountain is about 86 feet high (26.3 meters) and 65 feet wide (20 meters).
#2: It is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome
#3: It is a movie star! 1960’s La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini starring Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni was not the only film in which the fountain was featured. Other films in which the Trevi Fountain plays a starring role are:
- 1953: Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck
- 1954: Three Coins in the Fountain
- 1963: Gidget Goes to Rome
- 2003: The Lizzie McGuire Movie
- 2014: Elsa and Fred starring Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer
#4: There are two versions of where the word Trevi comes from. The first is that it comes from tre vie meaning three roads (the fountain is at the junction of three ancient roads). The other is that Trevi comes from the old name for the area that was originally called Trebium.
#5: Fun fact – A legend surrounds the fountain. It is told that in 19 BC Roman soldiers were guided by a young girl to a source of pure water about 8 miles (13 km) from Rome. The discovery of the source led to a commission for the construction of a 14 mile (22 km) aqueduct leading to Rome named Aqua Virgo or Virgin Waters after the young girl.
#6: In 1730 there was a contest to select an artist to design the fountain. But when a Florentine won the people of Rome were up in arms and so the Pope selected the designer who came in second the Roman Nicola Salvi.
#7: The loser in the contest was Alessandro Galilei from the same family as the famous scientist Galileo.
#8: Work on the fountain began in 1732 and was finished in 1762
#9: Most of the fountain is made from Travertine Stone from Tivoli 22 miles (35km) east of Rome
#10: The fountain has been restored several times including in 1998 and 2013. The 2013 restoration was sponsored by Fendi
#11: The backdrop of the fountain is the Palazzo Poli a Roman palace. The central part of the palace was demolished to provide room for the fountain in 1730.
#12: Make a wish – throw a coin in the fountain to ensure you will return to Rome
#13: Fun Fact – How to throw your coin – coins should be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder
#14: It is estimated that about 3,000 Euros are thrown in the fountain each day and collected each night. Sadly it is not unusual for people to try to steal the coins.
#15: The money is used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome’s poor
#16: When Mastroianni, the actor from La Dolce Vita, died in 1996 the fountain was turned off and draped in black.
How much fun is this?
Build the Trevi Fountain out of Legos! It is appropriate for kids from the 4th grade on up. You can buy the Legos on Amazon by clicking here. It makes a great educational gift.
Trevi Fountain in Viral YouTube Video
Trevi Fountain is known for love. There is no better fountain in the world to film a music video showing gratitude for love.
Music Fact – Bon Jovi filmed their viral video “Thank You for Loving Me” in the streets of Rome and by the fountain.
Trevi Fountain in Famous Movies
The Trevi Fountain was made famous in the movies “Three Coins in a Fountain” and “La Dolce Vita”.
Frank Sinatra sings the theme song “Three Coins in a Fountain” in the video above which features clips from the movie.
Other Roman Fountains Worth a Visit
Fountains are everywhere in Rome and everywhere they are free.
All of the fountains in Rome are operated by gravity. The source of the water has to be higher than the fountain. As a result a number of fountains had to be modified after they were built because the water was not flowing. One of the most surprising experiences for visitors to Rome is that people still drink directly from the fountains. It is a common sight to see people filling up water bottles from a fountain and take a big swig.
Here are some of the better known and most beautiful fountains in Rome:
- Fontane di Piazza San Pietro (Fountains in St. Peter’s Square). There are two fountains in the large piazza in front of St. Peter’s including one by Bernini
- The 3 Fountains in Piazza Navona
- Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi by Bernini which depicts four rivers (Ganges, Nile, Danube and the Rio de la Plata each representing a different continent)
- Fontana del Moro
- Fontana del Nettuno
- Fontana del Tritone in the Piazza Barberini near the Via Veneto by the sculptor Bernini
- Fontana delle Api (Fountain of the bees) in the Piazza Barberini where the Via Veneto enters the piazza
- Fontana delle Naiadi (considered Rome’s most sensual fountain) located in Piazza della Republica
- Fontana delle Tartarughe located in Piazza Mattei not far from the Campo de Fiori
- Fontana del Pantheom in Piazza della Rotonda in front of the Pantheon
Where is it Located?
The Trevi Fountain is located in Trevi Square near the Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona. The Trevi Fountain is open 24 hours a day and is free to all visitors.
The fountain is a perfect stopping point in the middle of your walking tour of Rome. It can be crowded around the fountain so be patient and you will eventually be able to work your way up to the front and get a good view. If you visit Rome during the peak tourist season it is worth considering visiting outdoor sites early in the morning before most people have left their hotels. Also consider visiting the fountain after dark when you will be able to see the spectacular lighting.
You can grab a bottle of water from one of the nearby shops and relax on the steps surrounding the fountain.