Rome. From Via del Tritone we enter Via della Stamperia, which leads to the Trevi Fountain, certainly the most famous and spectacular fountain in Rome, made even more famous by the night-time wading of Anita Ekberg in Federico Fellini’s film “La dolce vita’. The fountain is the terminai part of the Vergine aqueduct built by Agrippa, a general of Augustus, in 19 B.C. to bring the water coming from the Salone springs, 19 km away, to Rome.
Legend, illustrated in the fountain’s upper panels, has it that it was a young girl who showed Agrippa’s thirsty soldiers where a copious spring gushed forth. Hence the name of the aqueduct which, running underground for a long stretch, is the only one in Rome that has remained in use almost uninterruptedly from the time of its construction to the present day. This is the aqueduct that supplies the water to the monumental fountains of the historic centre, from Piazza Navona to Piazza di Spagna.
The name “Trevi”, on the other hand, allegedly derives from the word Trivium, a meeting point of three streets that form this little widened area.
lt is truly surprising to see such a large fountain in such a small square, but the artist Nicola Salvi, who created it between 1732 and 1762, carefully studied the way to increase the sensation of marvel. Indeed, he set it almost entirely against the face of Palazzo Poli, preceding it with a little balconied scene, almost as if it were a theatre! The artist was, however, disturbed during his work by the continuous criticism expressed by a barber who had his shop in the square. To shut him up, during one night Salvi created the large basin, familiariy calied the “Ace of Cups”, situated on the right-hand balustrade, which completely blocked the view of the fountain from the shop. Everyone knows that, if they want to return to Rome, they have to throw a coin into the basin, but be careful: for the dream to come true, you have to toss it over your shoulder with your back to the fountain!
Across from the Trevi fountain it is possible to admire the lively facade of the Chiesa dei Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio. The building, which was a Papal Parish for centuries, preserves the hearts and lungs of 22 popes who died in the Quirinal Palace standing nearby: from Sixtus V, who died in 1590, to Leo XIII, who died in 1903. Pope Pius X abolished this custom which had prompted Belli, the famous Roman dialect poet, to call the church “museo de’ corate e de’ ciorcelii” (pluck museum), from the popular term used to refer to the viscera of butchered animals.