The Trevi Fountain, or Fontana di Trevi in Italian, is Italy’s largest and most famous Baroque fountain, standing 85 feet high and 65 feet across. Baroque art, a popular European art form between 1600 and 1750, is characterized by highly ornate and decorative art and architecture. The fountain can be found in Rome’s Piazza di Trevi in the Quirinale district, easily reached by bus or Metro.
The Trevi Fountain was built in the 15th century to mark the ending destination of the Aqua Virgo, the manmade channel erected in 19 B.C. that brought fresh water to Roman bathhouses. The water comes from Salone Springs, eight miles outside of the city, but the length of the aqueduct is about 14 miles.
Where it began
Pope Urban VIII consulted Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a prominent Italian sculptor and architect, in 1629 to suggest ways to embellish the underwhelming Trevi Fountain that was commissioned in 1453 by Pope Nicholas V. Although Pope Urban died before his aspirations to improve the fountain could be realized, some of Bernini’s sketches survived and made the final design.
The Trevi Fountain that stands in Trevi Square today was designed by Roman architect Nicola Salvi. Building began in 1732 and concluded three decades later. Before his death in 1751, Salvi chose young artist Giuseppe Pannini as his successor. The fountain that stands today has work expressed in the original sketches from Bernini, Salvi and Pannini.
The scene depicted on Trevi Fountain tells the story of how the fountain was named. “It was a virgin shepherdess who showed the spring to soldiers seeking water,” according a 16th-century author quoted on the website Garden Fountains. Water flows from the mouth of the dominating figure–Neptune, god of the sea–standing atop a shell-shaped chariot drawn by two sea horses and two gods. The horses represent the changing mood of the sea. The larger statue on the left is a representation of the goddess Abundance, above whom is a bas-relief depiction of Agrippa, the son-in-law of the 19 B.C. emporer, approving the plans for construction of the aqueduct. On the right is the god Salubrity, topped by a representation of the virgin directing soldiers toward the water.