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The Aura of the Trevi Fountain: Rome's Ultimate Icon

7 mins. read

Published in the Sunday Gujarat Samachar on 18 February, 2024

We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day. So why should one visit really be enough! One way you can ensure that you will return to Rome again is by visiting the Trevi Fountain. How you may ask? Let me explain. There’s a long held tradition in Rome that tossing a coin into the Trevi fountain guarantees that you will visit Rome again. But that’s not all, there’s more to it. There are in fact three reasons for tossing coins into the fountain. The first, based on local lore is what we all know, that you will come back to Rome again. The second, is that tossing the coin means you will find love or romance in Rome and the third one is more connected to the second one and that is you will happily marry in the great city. And let me also tell you, one coin is not enough. Because each wish requires its own coin! and there is a specific way in which you have to toss the coin. But before we really figure out the way to toss that coin, let’s dive a little deeper into how the Trevi Fountain came to be Rome’s ultimate icon.

Nestled in the vibrant heart of Rome, the Trevi Fountain emerges like a Baroque masterpiece, casting a spell of awe on all who behold its magnificence. This architectural wonder, more than just a fountain, is a symbol of Rome's rich history and artistic heritage, standing as one of the most acclaimed and photographed fountains across the globe. Its cascading waters narrate tales of ancient traditions, while its majestic sculptures echo the grandeur of Roman mythology. The Trevi Fountain is not merely a sight to behold; it is an experience, weaving together the threads of history, art, and legend, making it an indispensable treasure in Rome's illustrious mosaic. Today, let’s fly to Italy and dive into the legends and stories of Rome’s ultimate icon - the Trevi Fountain.

Let’s begin with a little bit of history then. The origins of the Trevi Fountain stretch back to the ancient Roman times, illustrating a history as captivating as the monument itself. The fountain marks the terminus of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct, an engineering marvel constructed in 19 B.C. by Agrippa, a general and son-in-law of Emperor Augustus. This aqueduct, one of the ancient world’s most significant feats of engineering, was designed to channel water to Rome's baths and fountains, playing a crucial role in the daily life and sanitation of the city. The name "Trevi" itself is derived from the Latin "Trivium," referring to the junction of three roads where the fountain majestically stands.

The transformation of this site into the baroque spectacle we see today was commissioned by Pope Clement XII in 1730. Recognizing the need for a fountain that matched the grandeur of Rome, the Pope initiated a contest to design a new structure that would encapsulate the magnificence of the Roman Baroque era. Nicola Salvi was awarded the project, not through victory in the competition but through subsequent selection, and he laid the first stone in 1732. Despite Salvi's death in 1751, the work continued under the direction of several architects, including Giuseppe Pannini, who is often credited with its completion in 1762. The fountain's construction was emblematic of the era's fascination with Rome's ancient roots, showcasing a blend of monumental architecture and the sculptural finesse that epitomized the Baroque period.

Speaking of it’s architecture, the fountain is a complex ensemble of sculptures, rocks, and water that come together in a breathtaking display of art and architecture. At the center of the fountain's narrative is the commanding figure of Neptune, the god of the sea, riding a shell-shaped chariot drawn by two sea horses, each guided by a Triton. One horse is calm while the other is restive, symbolizing the fluctuating moods of the sea. Neptune, sculpted with commanding presence and divine authority, represents not just the power of the sea but also the fountain's role in bringing water to Rome, thus symbolizing the city's dominance over the natural world. The Tritons serve as attendants to Neptune, guiding the sea horses and symbolizing the fountain's connection to the aquatic realm.

Now that we have this background, let’s come back to our tradition of the way of tossing the coin into the fountain. A proper Trevi Fountain coin toss is done using your right hand to throw the coin over your left shoulder. Additionally, if you plan to throw a second and third coin into the fountain, it cannot be done all at once. So doing this same thing three times means that you will be married in Rome—after falling in love with a native, of course. And if you see photos of the fountain, you will just find it filled with coins at any time of the day.

Another intriguing question is, how much money does get thrown into the fountain everyday? Well, according to the Roman Municipality, it is estimated that approximately 3000 euros are tossed into the fountain every day!!! That’s crazy right. The coins collected from the fountain are not merely tokens of wishes and dreams; they serve a charitable purpose as well. The city of Rome collects these coins to fund social projects, including services for the needy, thus turning a simple act of hope into a mechanism for communal aid. This intertwining of personal dreams with public good adds a layer of meaningfulness to the tradition, making the act of tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain a gesture of both personal significance and collective benefit. This tradition has also gained worldwide fame, partly due to its romanticization in films, literature, and popular culture, further encouraging millions of visitors each year to partake in this timeless ritual.

Visiting the Trevi Fountain, a jewel in Rome's crown, offers an unforgettable experience. So that’s the Trevi Fountain. Have you been there? What was your experience of the coin throwing ritual like? Let me know at neil@veenaworld.com Until the next time, keep Celebrating Life!

February 17, 2024

Author

Neil Patil
Neil Patil

Founder & Director, Veena World

More Blogs by Neil Patil

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