Water is what made Rome great—and the Trevi Fountain is its perfect symbol

Rome, city of water
Many know the Trevi Fountain as the romantic symbol of the Italian ‘Dolce Vita’, but the fountain once served as a hub for the city’s water system.

A gift to the city from the Pope

The fountain as we know it today was completed in the 18th century. Pope Clement XII wanted to gift the city with a monumental fountain, so he launched a public competition to find an architect; Nicola Salvi won, and it took him almost 30 years of work to complete his late baroque masterpiece, a triumph of marble and zealous sculptures.
But a fountain had already been there for a long time. In fact, the Trevi Fountain was first built during the Roman times as the hub of the city’s water system. It was meant to grant citizens access to a source of prime quality water. The fountain was located (as it is today) at the intersection between three roads (‘tre vie’): that explains the name ‘Trevi.’

“Trevi”: At the crossroad of three streets

Back then, it looked much more modest that it does now: it was a fountain with three separate basins, where passersby could drink, wash and find solace. The fountain was the final destination of the Virgin Aqueduct, the only Roman aqueduct that still works today, after more than 2000 years since it was built.
Rome was the first city to introduce the idea of fountains with free, drinkable water, and to this day it still is the city with the highest concentration of drinking fountains in the world.

More than 2500 “Nasoni”

There are more than 2,500 ‘nasoni’ (big noses) across Rome and the traditional water fountains are often dubbed “democratic” as they can be found everywhere.

The Fountain of the Triton and other masterpieces

Besides, many others beautiful fountains can be found everywhere across the city. See here for example the Fountain of the Triton.

A reference standard

Roman aqueducts remain a standard for modern day water supply systems.

Undefeated solidity and functionality

This both from a durability and functionality standpoint. One one hand, most aqueducts built today will last more or less 50 years, the ones in Rome are still working after more than 2000 years. On the other, they are an engineering model around the world for their capacity of bringing water in deserted and arid areas, such as the deserts of Israel.

Credits: Story

Exhibition edited by Youth Committee of the Italian Commission for UNESCO - Lazio: Antonio Geracitano, Marco Anzellotti, Vittoria Azzarita, Andrea Bangrazi, Ilaria Cacciotti, Francesca Candelini, Giovanni Cedrone, Carlotta Destro, Caterina Francesca Di Giovanni, Alessandra Feola, Paolo Ianniccari, Marta Lelli, Laura Leopardi, Ginevra Odone, Dario Saltari, Paolo Scipioni.

Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO

Credits: All media
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