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Rome to Build a Barrier Around Trevi Fountain

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Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain will soon be surrounded by a barrier. 

Photo by vvoe/Shutterstock

Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain will soon be surrounded by a barrier. 

Seven months after announcing a slew of rules targeted at regulating tourists’ bad behavior, Roman officials are taking things one step further at the landmark fountain.

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On January 23, 2020, Rome’s city council approved a resolution to place barriers around the famous Trevi Fountain to curb risky behaviors from tourists and to prevent people from sitting on the monument. The Telegraph reports that the motion, which calls for respect for the symbolic parts of Roma Capitale, passed almost unanimously.

In a Facebook post, Rome mayor Virginia Raggi described the proposed barrier as being about three feet tall and made of glass and steel. She claims it will not obstruct the view of the monument, comparing it to barriers already protecting other Roman fountains, such as the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini in Piazza Navona. Still, responses to the announcement claim that the barrier is excessive and will ruin the beauty of the baroque fountain, which was built in 1732.

Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers has a small barrier separating tourists from the fountain itself.

Raggi also claims the barrier will still allow city visitors to toss coins into the fountain. According to legend, one coin tossed into Trevi Fountain will ensure that the thrower returns to Rome; two coins promise that the thrower will find love; three should result in a Roman wedding. Thanks to the popular ritual, tourists collectively throw about $1.7 million dollars annually into Trevi Fountain—that’s an average of $4,500 per day. It’s all donated to the Catholic charity Caritas, which helps the city’s poorest. 

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The decision to erect a barrier comes after a number of attempts to discourage bad tourist behavior in the Italian capital. In 2017, frolicking in the 40 historic fountains—à la Anita Ekberg in Federico Fellini’s lauded film La Dolce Vita—during the busy summer months became punishable by fine; 2018 saw stricter enforcement and higher fines for those same behaviors, as well as bans on pub crawls and drinking in public spaces. Most recently, a series of rules implemented in June 2019 prohibits eating or drinking or climbing on monuments and wading through fountains. Those in favor of the Trevi barrier say it will solve a problem that previous rules and regulations have failed to address. 

The motion also includes new provisions to restrict unauthorized street sellers around major tourist attractions. The city moved a number of legal souvenir stands away from historic sites earlier this year, and in her statement, Raggi notes that the barrier around Trevi Fountain will allow police to divert more focus from regulating tourists and tackle illegal street trading instead. 

>> Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to Rome