No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Fontana di Trevi, or Trevi Fountain. Located in the Quirinale district of Rome and completed in 1762, the Trevi Fountain is known as one of the most stunning fountains in the world. But there’s a lot more than just beauty behind this famous fountain! Here are 5 facts you might not have known about Rome’s Trevi Fountain:
1. The Trevi Fountain is one of the oldest water sources in Rome
The fountain dates back to ancient Roman times, since the construction of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct in 19 B.C. that provided water to the Roman baths and the fountains of central Rome. It’s said that the Aqua Virgo, or Virgin Waters, is named in honor of a young Roman girl who led thirsty soldiers to the source of the spring to drink. The fountain was built at the end point of the aqueduct, at the junction of three roads. These three streets (tre vie) give the Trevi Fountain its name, the Three Street Fountain. The fountain is mostly built from travertine stone, a name that means "from the Tiber" in Latin. A mineral made of calcium carbonate formed from spring waters, especially hot springs, the likely source was the city of Tivoli, about 22 miles from Rome. During construction many men were injured and a few died when working with enormous stone, including a stonecutter who was crushed by a large block of travertine in 1734.
2. The fountain waters onced turned red
The fountain has been used oftentimes as a venue to stage protests and to attract media attention. Probably the most spectacular stunt of all times happened in 2007 when a man poured red dye into the waters of the fountain. The result was truly impressive, something that could have been envisioned by a master of horror ficition. Thankfully the paint did not produce damages to the fountain that was soon cleaned and broght back to its candid white splendor
3. The fountain is charitable
When the fountain is open roughly €3,000 is thrown into it every day as people follow the tradition of throwing coins over their shoulders. The legend holds that a coin thrown into the fountain will ensure a return to Rome. This tradition also dates back to the ancient Romans who often threw coins in water to make the gods of water favor their journey or help them get back home safely. (Throw in a second coin if you’re seeking love – even a third for wedding bells!). What many do not know is that the coins are collected every night and given to an Italian charity called Caritas. Caritas, in turn, use the money for a supermarket program giving rechargeable cards to Rome’s needy to help them get groceries.
4. It’s a crime to steal the coins from the Trevi
Perhaps for just that reason, it’s illegal to fish out coins from the fountain. In the past it was common for gangs of thieves to sweep the coins out of the fountain at night. In fact, three were caught by a T.V. show using a hidden camera in 2011. The most famous raider, however, was known by his nickname, d’Artagnan. He stole the coins from the fountain for 34 years before he was caught in the summer of 2002.
5. This famous fountain is famous on film too!
A famed sight for tourists from throughout the world, the Trevi Fountain is quite the stage prop as well! Besides the iconic La Dolce Vita masterpiece by Federico Fellini, when Anita Ekberg jumped into the Trevi Fountain with her clothes on, the massive monument has been featured in many films including Roman Holiday, Three Coins in the Fountain and even The Lizzie McGuire Movie. The fountain is even replicated at Epcot in Walt Disney World!
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