Keep Your Fountains Flowing

Trevi Fountain

After the lockdown in Rome, photographs taken mainly by drones began appearing on internet showing a deserted city. One photo that got my attention was that of two vigili (city policemen) taking a selfie alone in front of the Trevi. There was something very tender about the photo as if these two vigili understood the uniqueness of being alone in front of one of Rome’s most important monuments and wanted to immortalize it.

Trevi Fountain is the oldest Roman water source and dates back to 19 B.C. The fountain was built at the end of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct where there was the junction of three roads, “tre vie” thus “Trevie” then “Trevi”.

In 1730, Pope Clement XII commissioned the fountain’s remodelling. The architect who designed it, Nicola Salvi, died before the fountain was completed as it took 30 years to finish it.

The protagonist of the fountain’s sculptural composition is Oceanus, the god of the earth’s fresh water. The fountain uses tons of water that it reuses to sustain itself.

The film Three Coins in the Fountain made making a wish and throwing a coin into the fountain popular with tourists. The coins are collected regularly by Caritas, a Catholic charity, that uses the money for worldwide food and social programs. It’s estimated that c. E3,000 is collected daily or rather was before the lockdown.

In 1996, the fountain was draped in black after Marcello Mastroianni who, thanks to the film La Dolce Vita, helped make the fountain more famous than ever. (You can read more about Marcello here: Vieni, Marcello, vieni!)

Romans love water (just think of ancient Rome’s aqueducts and public baths).

A “nasone” is a drinking fountain in the shape of a large nose (thus “nasone” which means “big nose”). Introduced in the 1870’s, there are over 2,500 of them in Rome with the purpose of supplying the people with free drinking water. The water that comes out of them is the same water that comes out of household water faucets.

Although it may seem like a waste of water, it’s not. The nasoni are used as ventilation valves for Rome’s water system. Plus the constant flow of water keeps water from stagnating in the pipes as this would produce bacteria. More water is lost from leaky pipes than from the nasoni.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from the nasoni, it’s that flow prevents stagnation.


Sculptural fountains in Rome + ”Marcello come here”: la scena cult nella fontana di Trevi


About Art for Housewives

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3 Responses to Keep Your Fountains Flowing

  1. Yvonne says:

    I had never given a thought to the origin of the Trevi fountain’s name. Thanks for that morsel of information.

  2. kingdaddy2010 says:

    Flowing prevents stagnation – so true.

    We love the nasoni fountains of Rome! You can actually buy a bathroom faucet from a company named after them, Nasoni, and it makes a water fountain!

    See it here:

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