Rome: Trevifountain – La Dolce Vita was right after all

The classic way to ‘explore’ the Trevi Fountain is -of course- to turn your back to the fountain and throw a coin into it over your shoulder. Rumour has it you’ll return to Rome one day. That part is true. I already was in Rome twice and intend to get there once more someday. Not sure whether my coins are the reason of going back. Maybe -just maybe- Italian food and ice cream have something to do with that as well … Try Fior di Luna in Trastevere for more than delicious gianduja ice cream.

Don’t expect the Trevi fountain to be romantic though. Damn you, La Dolce Vita, Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg for providing us with these cliché expectations. What most tourist guide books ‘forget’ to mention there’s a whole crowd you have to barge into before you get to the actual fountain. Which is far from romantic.

Last time I discovered Mastroianni and Ekberg were right after all. Because when did they end up in the fountain? During a ramble at night. When walking back to our hotel at the Via del Corso, we took a detour and ended up there at 1h30. No one there. Just us. Apart from some flower sellers that turned up and tried to sell me flowers. They screwed our movie experience unfortunately.

Me at the Trevi Fountain

The fountain was designed by one of my favourite architects ever, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and built 50 years later by Nicola Salvi in a late baroque style. The original fountain was built by the Romans. It was the end of the aqueduct Aqua Virgo which led water into the baths of Agrippa. Back then the Romans built fountains to mark the end of an aqueduct.  It was destroyed when the Goths were besieging Rome.

In the 15th century Pope Nicholas V had the Acqua Vergine aqueduct mended. The basin was simple, a design by the humanist architect Leon Battista Alberti. But Pope Urban VIII thought this fountain to be insufficient. He asked Bernini to redesign it. He made some sketches but the pope died and the project was abandoned. Yet the fountain has a lot of elements which are reminiscent of his style because Salvi based his design on Bernini’s. Salvi ended up second in a competition to redesign the fountain, but the winner Alessandro Galilei was a Florentine. Which didn’t agree with the Romans and so Salvi could redesign the fountain after all.

Neptune, the God of the sea is the god in the centre. He stands in a shell shaped chariot, two hippocamps are pulling it. One is quiet, the other one wild, symbolizing the sea. There also a bas-relief of Agrippa, the Roman general who provided for the original canal. Next to Neptune, there are two statues, Abundance and Salubrity.

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