Public Art : Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)
Sculptor: © Nicola Salvi, completed by Guiseppe
Panini and artists from the Bernini School.
Date: 1732 - 1762
Description: The marble fountain depicts Neptune,
(Roman god of the sea) riding a chariot drawn by winged horses and being led by Tritons (mythical sea god with head
& torso of a man and a tail of a fish). Neptune and his court are surrounded by what is known as "virgin
water". One Triton struggles with an unruly horse whilst the other Triton has a more placid one (symbolizing the
various moods of the sea).
Commissioned By : Pope Urban VIII
Location: Piazza di Trevi, Rome,
Background to Neptune : Neptune
was the Roman god of the sea. He is often depicted with a long beard holding a trident (spear with three
points) which was the symbol of his power. His trident could shatter rocks and bring forth storms. He is said to
have created the horse and his own horses would draw his chariot across the sea. His wife was Amphitrite and his
sons Triton & Proteus. The Greek equivalent is Poseidon.
History of the Trevi Fountain: The Trevi Fountain was
built by architect, Nicola Salvi, in 1732 and completed by Guiseppe Panini in 1762 and was decorated by
artists from the Bernini School. The fountain's water was supplied by one of Rome's first aquaducts. Legend
surrounding the location of the fountain dates back to the time of Octavian Augustus (27 BC) when soldiers of
Agrippa returned to Rome. Exhausted and thirsty a spring of water was pointed out to them by a virgin. Agrippa then
made the spring into an aquaduct which ended at what became known as the "virgin water". If you look closely the
woman in one of the niches is actually pointing to the water's spring.
In the 17th century Pope Urban VIII decided to build a fountain on the location of the legend but it was not until
1732, that Pope Clement XII ordered its construction. The Pope decided the public should foot the bill for the
fountain by increasing the tax on wine. As a result he became known as "Papa Gabella" (the Taxing Pope).
: Another legend surrounding the fountain is that if you toss a coin over your shoulder
into the fountain you are destined to return to Rome, if you throw two coins you are assured the love of a desired
partner and if you throw three coins you will marry your desired partner. For years the locals would steal the
coins from the fountain at night but the coins are now collected and are donated to charities such as the Red
A word of warning, if you want to skinny-dip in the Trevi Fountain there are security camera's
everywhere. On the 23rd April 2007, a Milan woman made headlines after being caught naked whilst cooling off in the
fountain. Only known as Roberta, the woman had no idea she was being recorded, until she made
the front pages of one of Italy's leading newspapers the next morning (unlucky!).
July, 2009- The Trevi Fountain coin thief has been at it again. 57-year-old
Roberto Cancelletto, called D’Artagnan for the sword-shaped magnet he uses to collect coins from the fountain, has
been arrested for the third time. The police had to cordon off the area after D'Artadnan threatened to commit
suicide.The unemployed Cancelletto even went so far as to cut himself on the stomach with a razor blade while
begging for a job. He has now been banned from the square and fined 260 euros.
Several years ago a vandal threw red dye into the waters of Trevi Fountain.
It is one of the most photographed places in Rome.
The fountain was used as a backdrop for the movies Three Coins in a Fountain and La
Other Neptune Statues From Around the World :
Fountain of Neptune - Florence, Italy.
Neptunbrunnen - Berlin, Germany
Captain Arthur Phillip Fountain - Sydney, Australia. Call it clutching at straws but this fountain
does feature a bronze statue of Neptune (complete with trident).