Three Coins in the Fountain – Where Do They Go?


Workers performing the daily chore of collecting coins at Rome’s Trevi Fountain.

What happens to that coin you tossed in the Trevi Fountain? If you’ve been to Rome, you’ve probably tossed in a coin or two (or three). Thousands of visitors do so every single day. Standing 86 feet tall and 161 feet wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. Work on the present fountain began in 1732 and was not finished until 30 years later. It was officially opened and inaugurated on May 22, 1762 by Pope Clemens XIII.

The tradition of coin tossing gained popularity after it was the theme of the 1954 romantic film Three Coins in the Fountain, but it the tradition started long before the movie. Originally, it was said that drinking a glass of water from the Trevi Fountain would ensure good fortune and a fast return to the Eternal City. Over time, the legend evolved into tossing a coin in the fountain to ensure a return to Rome.

If you want to be precise in your coin tossing, stand with your back to the fountain and with your right hand, toss a coin over your left shoulder to guarantee a return trip to Rome. When you turn around, you’ll likely begin to wonder how much cash is in the fountain. Each day coins from nations around the globe are collected, amounting to about $3,000 daily. The fountains are shut down for an hour each day so city workers can sweep up the coins. The money is then given over to the Catholic charity Caritas, which sorts the money and uses it to assist the needy and operate a low-cost supermarket in Rome. Since 2012, the daily take is up by 30%. This wasn’t due entirely to increased tourism. That is the year that it became a crime to steal money from the fountain!

Recently, the Italian fashion company Fendi sponsored a 20-month, 2.2-million-euro restoration of the fountain. Work began in June 2014 and was completed in November 2015. The fountain was reopened with an official ceremony on the evening of November 3, 2015. The restoration included the installation of more than 100 LED lights to improve the nighttime illumination of the fountain.

So, the next time that you are in Roma and visit the fountain, keep in mind that the coins you toss are not only for a swift return to the Eternal City, but are also helping a worthy charity.

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