The Trevi Fountain in the homonymous square is one of the masterpieces of Rome and one of its most famous symbols in the world. Immortalized by Federico Fellini in the film La dolce vita, it was the backdrop to the iconic bathing scene of Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg who renewed her universal celebrity. As a symbol it has often been used for more or less artistic or political claims.
The last were some climate activists who poured black charcoal-based liquid into the fountain tanks in protest against the dangers of global warming.
Fortunately, it has been possible to restore the Trevi Fountain in all its glory; regardless of the reasons, it is certain that every Italian citizen feels sorry to see a similar monument reduced in certain conditions. And this is especially true of the Trevi Fountain, which boasts a truly extraordinary history.
The Trevi Fountain between history and legend
The Trevi Fountain is the largest and most spectacular of those in Rome. It is the exhibition of the Virgin Water, that is the aqueduct built by Marco Vipsanio Agrippa in 19 B.C. to feed the baths. It is one of the undisputed symbols of the city so much so that, every year, millions of tourists come to the capital to take a picture and throw a coin as a sign of good luck.
On the origin of its name there are several hypotheses: the first claims that “Trevi” derives from “Trebium”, the locality of origin near the Tiburtina; the second, instead, which derives from “trivio”, that is, the crossing of the three Collatina streets, Tiburtina and Prenestina from which water originates; the third, finally, refers to Iuturna, the nymph invoked during periods of drought and to whom a temple named “Trevi” was dedicated.
A first restoration of the aqueduct was carried out in 1453 by order of Pope Nicholas V and by work of Leon Battista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellini. The fountain, instead, begins to take shape with Urban VIII, who decided to replace the simple aqueduct with an imposing and majestic monument, so much so that he asked for the intervention of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Both, unfortunately, died before the fountain was officially completed; for this reason, over a century later, Pope Clement XII invited the artists of the time to submit projects to complete it permanently. Among the various proposals won that of Nicola Salvi.
The works ended with Pope Clement XIII and Giuseppe Pannini, who succeeded to the death of Clement XII and Nicola Salvi, in 1762.
Cosa rappresenta la Fontana di Trevi?
La Fontana di Trevi è un’opera monumentale conosciuta in tutto il mondo, anche e soprattutto per ciò che rappresenta: la sua parte centrale si sviluppa come un arco di trionfo con una grande nicchia e, lateralmente, colonne corinzie. In alto e centralmente è presente l’iscrizione “Clemens XII Pont Max” in onore a Papa Clemente XII.
La fontana comprende anche quattro statue realizzate nel 1735 che simboleggiano (a partire da sinistra) l’abbondanza, la fertilità, i doni dell’autunno e l’amenità dei prati. All’interno della nicchia centrale, invece, è posizionata la statua di Oceano, che si trova sopra una grande conchiglia trainata da due cavalli marini alati (uno pacifico, l’altro rabbioso) guidati da due tritoni, uno giovane e uno adulto, che evidenziano le caratteristiche dell’uomo e della natura.
Lateralmente alla nicchia, poi, si trovano le statue della salubrità e dell’abbondanza, realizzate da Filippo Della Valle, mentre i rilievi rappresentano la Vergine che mostra la sorgente ai soldati.
Trevi Fountain and traditions
The first tradition that comes to mind when talking about the Trevi Fountain is the famous coin toss, a gesture that no tourist can give up; you have to put your back, close your eyes, put your right hand on your left shoulder, flip the coin and turn around quickly: if you can stop with your eyes the moment when the coin touches the water, then it means that you will return to Rome!
But there is also another tradition, definitely more romantic but less known: in the past, when the boys were about to leave for work or military service, the girlfriends used to make them drink the water of the fountain from a new glass and then break it themselves to symbolize a pact of eternal fidelity.
Today the tradition presents a new version: young lovers must drink together from the Fontanina degli Innamorati, located to the right of the monument, to ensure that their love and mutual loyalty last forever.
Trevi Fountain as a symbol of protest (and not only)
The monuments of the capital have always been the subject of attacks by activists and environmentalists, as we mentioned at the beginning the last were some members of the Last Generation worried about global warming. But already in 2008, a cascade of 500 colored plastic balls invaded the Spanish Steps to end up in the Barcaccia fountain and in October 2017, the Trevi Fountain was filled with red paint. In both cases, fortunately, the monuments did not suffer permanent damage, but the person responsible was identified and brought to trial: it was Graziano Cecchini, renamed for the occasion “the dyer of Trevi” sentenced, in the end, to 8 months imprisonment.
The Fontana had been smeared exactly ten years before and Cecchini, in his opinion, with his gesture wanted to highlight the fact that despite the passing of the years the conditions of Rome had remained unchanged. As we have seen what for him was an eperience of futurist pop art has been judged a crime.
But the Trevi Fountain can not and should not messere remembered and known only as a symbol of protest, but also as a protagonist of memorable films, first of all “La Dolce Vita” by Federico Fellini: how to forget, in fact, the beautiful Anita Ekberg who invited the charming Marcello Mastroianni to take a bath with her right in the water of the fountain?
Not to mention, then, “Tototruffa 62”, a film by Camillo Mastrocinque, in which Totò not only tried to sell the Trevi Fountain, but gave up the copyright for photos taken by various tourists, and “We were so loved”by Ettore Scola, starring Vittorio Gassman and Nino Manfredi.
In short, if the Roman monument is often targeted to protest and draw attention to current issues, it is also true that in the collective imagination remains deeply impressed by the legends and traditions that have always characterized it, as well as for the majesty and beauty that can transmit at first glance.