One of the first things you’ll notice about the Trevi Fountain – or Fontana di Trevi in Italian – is that it’s downright enormous. At 85 feet high and 65 feet wide, it’s the biggest fountain in the entire city of Rome. A fountain was originally built on this spot in the mid-15th century, when the tradition of building fountains to mark the end point of an acqueduct was rekindled, but this has always been the terminus of one of Rome’s ancient acqueducts – the Acqua Vergine. The acqueduct was destroyed by invaders in the 6th century, but repaired in the 15th century by order of the Pope when the first fountain was built. The Trevi Fountain you see today, which was completed in 1762, is still served by that same Acqua Vergine acqueduct. The design of the Trevi changed several times as it was being built, as happens with construction projects that outlive the funding source. In the early 17th century, the Pope decided the existing fountain wasn’t dramatic enough and asked famed sculptor Bernini to come up with a new design. When the Pope died, so did the construction project, although one element of Bernini’s design can be seen in the current fountain – he moved the fountain from one side of the piazza to the other. The Trevi Fountain project was taken up again in the early 18th century, and this time it continued even after the then-Pope’s death. In this case, even the designer, Nicola Salvi, didn’t live to see the final fountain. Salvi died in 1751 and the fountain was completed in 1762; the design is still predominantly Salvi’s, although another designer was overseeing the work at the end. While most people aren’t concerned with the allegories and symbolism of the fountain’s decor (especially since many are facing away from the fountain as they’re throwing coins), to the original builders the meaning was just as important as the water that flowed from the fountain. The star of the show is a figure called “Oceanus,” who is seen riding on a giant clam shell and represents water in all its forms – rivers, oceans, lakes, etc. – although perhaps the name most of us might recognize is that of Triton, Poseidon’s son who’s most often seen blowing on a conch shell. You’ll see him on the right side of Oceanus. The building behind the fountain, the Palazzo Poli, existed when the fountain was built, but it was spruced up a bit to go with the fancy new fountain in front of it. And you may be interested to know that the same acqueduct that feeds the Trevi Fountain also feeds the fountain in the middle of Piazza Navona. In other words, if anyone else decides to dye the water in the Trevi Fountain red and the water isn’t shut off quickly, the water in the Piazza Navona fountain will be red.
from website why go italy