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What Happens to the Money Thrown into Rome’s Trevi Fountain?

Updated May 16, 2024
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Have you ever thrown a coin into a fountain and made a wish? If so, have you ever wondered what exactly happens to all of those “wishes”? Who collects them, and what are they used for? Rome’s Trevi Fountain is a Baroque masterpiece, famous for attracting visitors to make wishes and toss their coins into its waters. In fact, approximately $3,500 worth of coins are thrown into the Trevi Fountain every day, equalling an astounding $1.7 million each year.

Since 2001, the city of Rome has donated the money collected from the Trevi Fountain to a Catholic charity called Caritas. The funds have helped the poor in the Italian capital through social relief programs like soup kitchens and homeless shelters. The Trevi Fountain coins account for approximately 15% of the charity's annual budget.

Controversy erupted in 2019, however, when a leaked document suggested that the city council, under the leadership of Mayor Virginia Raggi, was planning to use the money collected from the Trevi Fountain to improve Rome’s infrastructure

Avvenire, an Italian daily newspaper affiliated with the Catholic Church, published an article about these plans, declaring that the city's underprivileged communities would suffer greatly without funding from Caritas. Raggi backtracked, stating that the only planned change was that city authorities would now physically collect and clean the money, but the funds would continue to be given to Caritas for their vital work.

Trevi trivia:

  • Legend has it that if you throw a coin over your shoulder and into the Trevi Fountain, you will one day return to the Eternal City. It has appeared in such films as Roman Holiday, Three Coins in the Fountain and La Dolce Vita.

  • The Trevi Fountain has long been a tempting site for people looking for an illicit swim. In 2019, a man was arrested and fined after he decided to go skinny dipping in the fountain. The incident was captured on video and posted on social media by tourists.

  • Designed by architect Nicola Salvi, the Trevi Fountain was constructed between 1732 and 1762. Made of Travertine stone, it stands 86 feet (26.3 m) high and 161.3 feet (49.15 m) wide, and features a statue of the god Oceanus as its focal point.

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