Rome to erect “no sitting” barrier around the Trevi fountain

Rome, 25th January 2020

A motion to protect Rome’s sculptural masterpiece has been passed by Rome’s city council, reports La Repubblica.

The council’s act proposes a barrier in front of the monument’s large pool to prevent the public from sitting on its edge, and further crowd control measures to control the flow of tourists past the monument. Souvenir vendors will also be banned.

The piazza in which the Fontana di Trevi stands has become a global symbol of “overtourism”, perpetually crowded, teeming with tacky souvenir stands that blight the view, and often plagued by pickpockets working the crowd; the steps in front of the fountain are packed at all times of the day as tourists jostle for position, sometimes even leading to fist fights over the best location for a selfie.

Moreover, ever since Federico Fellini had Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni embrace in its waters in 1960’s La Dolce Vita, the fountain has been under threat from disrespectful copycats who try to plunge into the waters before being immediately arrested, fined, and often deported – and the 86-foot (26 metre) high edifice has even suffered such abuse as an “artist” dyeing its waters red in 2017 and threatening the integrity of the marble.

Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain
When in Rome, don’t do this.

Most fountains in Rome are priceless works of art, and fountains in general are thus held in vast cultural esteem; unlike in some other countries, cooling off or splashing in a fountain is legally forbidden, and a moral outrage to the locals.

Since the famous coin-tossing maneuver involves visitors sitting on the edge of the fountain’s pool, and facing away from the monument while throwing a coin over a shoulder, it’s not clear that tourists will be able to continue with the tradition that claims a coin thrown into the waters of the fountain ensures one will return to Rome one day. Studies on the loss of future revenue due to a dearth of supernatural forces impelling repeat visits are yet to be forthcoming.

Currently, money thrown into the fountain is collected daily and donated to a homelessness charity in the city.

The Trevi Fountain was commissioned by Pope Clement XXII to commemorate the supply of water to Rome via aqueduct. Designed by architect Nicola Salvi, work on the fountain began in 1732, but was not completed for another thirty years; Salvi and Clement never saw the edifice, both having died before it was complete.

To see the Trevi Fountain and the other marvels of baroque Rome, try our free, self-guided walk through the fountains and piazzas of Rome.

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