Saturday, 7 January 2017

Rome 365 - Trevi Fountain

The Trevi is a 'Mostra' fountain, which is a showpiece fountain signalling the entrance of an acquaduct into the city - in the case of the Trevi the acquaduct in question is the Acqua Vergine.
Built in 19 BC by Marcus Agrippa, this acquaduct runs mainly underground but can be glimpsed briefly on Via Nazareno. 

For over 2,000 years this acquaduct has supplied water to the city and is the only one remaining that still does so today.

Nicola Salvi won the commission, against all odds, to build the fountain, probably because his design was the least expensive.
The inauguration took place in 1735, as the inscription shows, but work continued until 1762 when it was officially opened.

The fountain itself is a sublime Baroque fantasy which includes figures of Oceanus, Tritons, Abundance & Health. The Tritons are in charge of two horses, one calm, one restless.

The figure of Abundance holds a horn of plenty,

While Health holds a cup and snake.

Above these figures you will see a depiction of the legend of the founding of the source that fed the acquaduct - a young woman shows the spring to Roman soldiers.......

 ....... and Agrippa approves the plans.

Four figures at the top of the facade represent the good effects of rain upon the earth.

From left to right they are holding a horn of plenty, symbolising the abundance of fruits, next a wheat sheaf, symbolising fertility, then a cup & bunch of grapes representing autumn and finally a wealth of flowers representing gardens.

Many plants are depicted on the facade and amongst the rocks including a garland of figs along the top balustade, capers on the cornice of Via dei Crociferi and an oak tree below the statue of Health. There are also prickly pear, artichokes and bunches of grapes to be found. 

The facade is Travertine marble from a quarry in Tivoli. Marble from the same quarry was used in the constuction of the Getty Cente in Los Angeles. The statues are Cararra marble.

The architect of the Trevi , Niccolo Salvi never saw the completed fountain - too much time spent in the dank waterworks affected his lungs & hastened his death.

The water from Aqua Vergine is supposed to be the purest in all of Rome. In the 18th century tourists would dunk their kettles in the fountain to make tea.
A much more romantic way to take the water is to drink from the 'Lovers Fountain' which is found to the left of the main fountain. The legend says that those couples that drink from the fountain together will remain faithful forever.

Because every visitor to Rome wants to return, everyone takes part in a well-known tradition: to throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain. And this is the way to do it: stand with your back to the fountain, hold the coin in your right hand, throw it over your left shoulder.
The origins of leaving a coin in the Eternal City are very old: early Christian pilgrims, who were leaving Rome, would place a coin on St. Peter’s tomb. Coin tossing in the Trevi was a tradition started by the film ‘Three coins in a fountain’. One coin will ensure a return visit to Rome while a second makes a wish come true.

Around €3,000 per day is collected from the Trevi and donated to charity.The photo above shows how this is done! 

Escape the crowds

Just around the corner from the fountain is La Citta dell'Aqua. This archeological site contains remains of an apartment block or insula, originally built at the time of Nero but converted in the 4th century into a wealthy residence. There is also a large distribution tank which dates back to the 2nd century and for which the water would have been supplied by the Acqua Vergine.

La Citta dell'Acqua is open Tuesday - Sunday and costs a bargain €3 to enter.

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