Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. The fountain has appeared in several notable films, including Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and is a popular tourist attraction.
Legend holds that in 19 BC thirsty Roman soldiers were guided by a young girl to a source of pure water thirteen kilometers from the city of Rome.
The discovery of the source led Augustus to commission the construction of a twenty-two kilometer aqueduct leading into the city, which was named Aqua Virgo, or Virgin Waters, in honor of the legendary young girl.
An early, influential model by Pietro da Cortona, preserved in the Albertina, Vienna, also exists, as do various early 18th century sketches, most unsigned, as well as a project attributed to Nicola Michetti one attributed to Ferdinando Fuga and a French design by Edme Bouchardon.
In 1730 Pope Clement XII organized a contest in which Nicola Salvi initially lost to Alessandro Galilei – but due to the outcry in Rome over the fact that a Florentine won, Salvi was awarded the commission anyway.
Work began in 1732 and the fountain was completed in 1762, long after Salvi’s death, when Pietro Bracci’s Oceanus (god of all water) was set in the central niche.
In January 2013, it was announced that the Italian fashion company Fendi would sponsor a 20-month, 2.2-million-euro restoration of the fountain; it will be the most thorough restoration in the fountain’s history.
The backdrop for the fountain is the Palazzo Poli, given a new façade with a giant order of Corinthian pilasters that link the two main stories. Taming of the waters is the theme of the gigantic scheme that tumbles forward, mixing water and rockwork, and filling the small square.
Tritons guide Oceanus’ shell chariot, taming hippocamps. The acqueduct was built by Agrippa to supply the thermal baths he built in the Campus Martius, by the Pantheon. There was a fountain at the end of the acqueduct already then.
The acqueduct was damaged by the invasion of the Ostrogoths led by king Vitigis in 537. After the barbaric invasions the last portion of the acqueduct was abandoned and all the medioeval restorations did not continue further than the trivium crossing.
In 1732, pope Clement XII commissioned Nicola Salvi to create a large fountain at the Trevi Square to replace the existing fountain. A previous undertaking to build the fountain after a design by Bernini was halted a century earlier after the death of pope Urban VIII. Salvi based his theatrical masterpiece on this design.
The central figure of the fountain, standing in a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He rides a shell-shaped chariot that is pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive.
They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. The statues were sculpted by Pietro Bracci. Tradition has it that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the fountain’s water basin.