Trevi Fountain ★★

Fontana di Trevi
The Trevi Fountain. (Photo by Paul McCoubrie)

The Fontana di Trevi just may be the world's most famous wishing well—certainly one of the most lucrative, what with every tourist tossing "three coins in a fountain"

The Trevi Fountain at night
The Trevi Fountain. (Photo by Gary)

The famous Trevi Fountain is a huge baroque confection of thrashing mer-horses, splashing water, and striding Tritons presided over by a muscular Neptune.

It was sculpted in 1762 by Nicolà Salvi to serve as an outlet for the Acqua Vergine aqueduct, built in 19 B.C. and still running (it also supplies the fountains in Piazza Navona and Piazza di Spagna, a.k.a. the Spanish Steps).

Trevi Fountain traditions

Tourists and teens throng the cramped little piazza's curving steps from early morning until well after midnight while immigrants selling plastic-wrapped roses thread through the crowds.

Legend—and a host of silly American movies (especially Three Coins in the Fountain)—hold that if you toss a coin into this fountain, you're guaranteed to return to Rome.

Some say you must lob the coin with the right hand backward over the left shoulder. Others insist you must use three coins.

Historians point out the original tradition was to drink the fountain's water, but unless you enjoy the taste of chlorine, I'd stick to pocket change.

Tips & links

How long does Trevi Fountain take?

Planning your day: If you're just here to snap a picture and throw in a few superstitious coins to make sure you get back to Rome one day, it'll take 5–15 minutes (depending on how much of a crowd you have to fight through).

Some folks just like to sit on the steps and hang out for a while—it's too crowded and noisy to be relaxing, but it is interesting for people-watching.

» Rome itineraries

Trevi Fountain tours
No swimming allowed

Seriously, folks. Unless you're Anita Ekberg, do not strip to your skivvies and just wade in. There are cops constantly on patrol here, and you'll get horribly embarrassed—and probably steeply fined as well.

Gelato alert!

The Trevi Fountain is surrounded by a cocoon of gelato shops and stands; ignore them all and head around the corner to find one of the best gelaterie (ice cream parlors) in all of Rome: San Crispino

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