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In 1730, Pope Clemens XII commissioned a competition to design a fountain; there were no rules or necessary requirements. The winner was Nicola Salvi with his enormous but beautiful design of a fountain with the sea god Neptune. Construction began in 1732 but sadly Salvi never saw the completion of his creation; the world-famous Trevi Fountain was only concluded in 1762, 11 years after his death.
Trevi means ‘three roads’; the location where the fountain stands used to be an intersection where 3 roads came together. By far the largest and most famous fountain in Rome, the Trevi Fountain is 20 metres wide and 26 metres high. It depicts Neptune in a chariot pulled by 2 horses ridden by 2 Tritons, one older and one younger. Look more closely and you will notice that one horse is calm, while the other is quite wild; a symbol of the ocean’s changing moods.
The water in the Trevi Fountain comes from the Acqua Vergine aqueduct; according to experts at the time, this was the softest and best tasting water in Rome. Every day, large kegs were filled with water from the fountain and brought to the Vatican. The water apparently was so delicious that the British in Rome used it to make tea. In 1961, however, the water was declared to be inappropriate for consumption. Today, the water from the Trevi Fountain is filtered by pumps and is just as clean as the water in your hotel. If taken straight from the pump, not from the basin, the water is appropriate for drinking – if you dare.
The Trevi Fountain is the place to come and toss coins into the water for good luck. Legend states that if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain, you will return to Rome someday. Two coins will ensure an encounter with the love of your life, and three coins will guarantee marriage to a Roman. The coins never remain in the water for more than 7 days; the city removes them every week and donates the money to charity. The Trevi Fountain has starred in many movies, but its most famous appearance was in ‘La Dolce Vita’. In this classic film, sultry Anita Ekberg takes a bath in the fountain.