Why you should go
Rome's most famous fountain, the iconic Fontana di Trevi, or Trevi Fountain, is a flamboyant baroque ensemble of mythical figures and wild horses taking up the entire side of the 17th-century Palazzo Poli. Thousands visit the fountain every day, keeping up with the tradition of tossing a coin into the water to ensure they will return to Rome. That, and it makes for a great photo opportunity. On average, about €3000 ($3600) is thrown in daily.
Want to avoid the crowds? Visit later in the evening, when the fountain is beautifully lit, and you can appreciate its foaming majesty in a quieter environment.
The fountain's design, the work of Nicola Salvi in 1732, depicts sea-god Oceanus in a shell-shaped chariot led by Tritons with seahorses – one wild, one docile – representing the moods of the sea. In the niche to the left of Neptune, a statue represents Abundance; to the right is Salubrity. The water comes from the Aqua Virgo, a 1st-century-BCE underground aqueduct, and the name Trevi refers to the "tre vie" (three roads) that converge at the fountain.
The famous tradition of tossing a coin into the fountain to ensure your trip to Rome comes from the 1954 film Three Coins in the Fountain. The money thrown into the Trevi is collected daily and goes to the Catholic charity Caritas, with its yield increasing significantly since the crackdown on people extracting the money for themselves.
Most famously, Trevi Fountain is where movie star Anita Ekberg cavorted in a ballgown in director Federico Fellini's classic La Dolce Vita (1960); apparently she wore waders under her iconic black dress but still shivered during the winter shoot. In the summer of 2016, a British woman was fined €450 ($542) for dancing in the fountain in an evening dress and fur stole in blatant imitation of the iconic actress.
In 2016, fashion house Fendi staged a "Legends and Fairytales" fashion show at the fountain during which catwalk models walked on water – or rather strutted across a glass walkway constructed above the emerald water – as the sun set over this Roman icon. It was given permission to do so in acknowledgment of its €2.18 million ($2.62 million) sponsorship of the fountain's restoration.
Trevi Fountain rules and etiquette
Paddling or bathing in the fountain is strictly forbidden, as is eating and drinking on the steps leading down to the water. Both crimes risk an on-the-spot fine of up to €500 ($600).
Coin-tossing etiquette includes throwing with your right hand over your left shoulder, with your back facing the fountain.