In a city full of wonders, the Trevi Fountain still manages to stand out in Rome. The monumental fountain reaches 26.3 metres (86 ft) high and 49.15 metres (161.3 ft) wide, and is largest fountain in the Eternal City. You will hear it before you ever see it as the water thunders out of an ancient aqueduct. So what makes the Trevi Fountain so special? Well, here are 10 things you should know about Rome’s most famous fountain:
10 Facts About the Trevi Fountain
- The Trevi Fountain design was decided by a contest. In 1629, Pope Urban VIII commissioned the famed architect Bernini to redesign a dramatic fountain where the Trevi now stands. However, those plans fell through after Urban VII’s death. Eventually, Pope Clement XII decided to host a contest for designs. Nicola Salvi won, and his design based on the theme “Taming of the Waters” was finally constructed in 1762.
- There has been a fountain here since Ancient Roman times. The water that fills the Trevi Fountain still comes from the ancient aqueduct that was built by Agrippa in 19 BC. The Roman emperor built the Acqua Vergine Antica to supply the public baths near the Pantheon. Most of the aqueduct runs underground, but you can see part of it if you visit the glamorous Rinascente Department Store, 2 minutes from the Trevi.
- The Trevi is named for the three streets that lead up to it. Part of what makes the Trevi Fountain so remarkable is that it is a huge monument confined to a small square. You will hear the fountain before you ever see it, with the towering white stone suddenly bursting into view. This effect is thanks to the way the three streets leading up to the landmark are angled. Three streets in Italian is “tre vie” and it is these tre vie that gave rise to the name Trevi Fountain.
- All of the money thrown into the fountain goes to charity. Tens of thousands of people visit the Trevi Fountain every day and almost every single one of them will throw a coin into the basin. That money is all collected once a week with a sort of underwater vacuum and donated to charity.
- 20 million gallons of water flow through the Trevi Fountain every day. The Trevi Fountain is always on and the continuously flowing water that falls into its pool is equal to a staggering 20 million gallons a day. That is 2,824,800 cubic feet of water every day.
- 1,200 people visit the Trevi Fountain every hour. The Trevi Fountain is the top free thing to see in Rome. Experts estimate that an average of 1,200 people visit the fountain every hour. Of course, you will find much smaller crowds at night or during the winter, and much larger crowds during the daytime at the peak of summer. That works out to about 10.5 million people per year visiting the Trevi Fountain. To control the crowds, the city of Rome is considering installing barriers around the fountain, but many fear it will take away from the beauty of the monument.
- Fendi paid to restore the Trevi Fountain. The famous Italian fashion house is from Rome, and so Fendi put up the millions of dollars needed to complete renovations on the Trevi Fountain. Once it was ready to reopen, Karl Lagerfeld actually had models walk on a runway IN the water. It was incredible — and win-win. The runway show was one of a kind, and the gorgeous landmark looks better than ever since reopening in 2016.
- You can’t drink the water from the Trevi Fountain! Tap water in Rome is completely safe to drink, but you shouldn’t drink the water in the Trevi Fountain. The water in the basin isn’t clean, and you are not permitted to climb up on the side of the Trevi to reach the free-flowing water. Instead, if you are facing the fountain, look for the nasone (free Roman water fountain) on the right-hand side. You can fill up water bottles here and toast the cascade.
- Jumping in the fountain will earn you a hefty fine. There is an iconic scene in La Dolce Vita when the two lead characters wade through the waters of the Trevi Fountain in while dressed in an evening gown and tuxedo. It is the most famous scene in one of the most famous movies about Rome, but don’t even think about trying to recreate it! There is a strict rule on public behavior around landmarks in the Eternal City, but at least one person tries to swim in the fountain every year. Dipping into the water will cost at least €450 in fines.
- The Pope paid for the fountain with a lottery. Building the monumental Trevi Fountain was no small undertaking. The fountain is full of sculptures and is made from the same travertine stone as the Colosseum. In order to fund the construction, Pope Clement XII had to raise money vast and he did it by allowing gambling and re-launching the lottery in order to raise money from the sale of tickets.
Do you have any other favorite fun facts about the Trevi Fountain? I would love to hear them!
Want to see the Trevi Fountain like never before? This gorgeous drone video was taken by Invidio during Italy’s 2020 lockdown. It shows how beautiful the fountain can be both day or night.
The Trevi Fountain truly is one of the 10 must see things in Rome.