Are you planning a trip to Rome or are currently in the city and want to know what to see and do at and near the Trevi Fountain? You’ve come to the right place. This article details 10 things you should check out while near the Trevi Fountain + Restaurants Recommendations!
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The Top 10 Things to See at and Near the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is a baroque icon that averages between 1000 to 1200 visitors per hour in a normal year. It is easy to snap a pic, throw your coins in the fountain and go but you found this article which means you are a savvy traveler that wants more.
Here are the top things to see at the Trevi fountain including historical details, construction, and more.
1. The Trevi Fountain
Obviously the number 1 thing to see is the fountain itself. The word “Trevi” refers to the small piazza it sits in and the three roads that meet in that piazza. The number three in Italian is “tre” and road/street is “via”. Tre-via or Trevi. Fontana di Trevi or fountain of three roads.
The fountain is obviously outdoors and connected to Palazzo Poli. Palazzo Poli is a museum that houses engravings and other important artifacts.
The Trevi Fountain was to be constructed originally by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century. The plans were never acted on and over a hundred years later Nicola Salvi got the job by losing a competition for best drawing. Yes, Salvi lost to a Florentine Alessandro Galli.
Romans were not happy about a Florentine getting the commission and revolted. Eventually, Salvi was handed the job. Construction began in 1732 and was completed in 1762 eleven years after Salvi’s death. The job was handed to an architect Giuseppe Pannini who worked with multiple sculptors to finish the project.
We’ll get more into the construction and origins in the next point!
2. Aqua Virgo Aqueduct
Aqua Virgo Aqueduct is one of Rome’s oldest aqueducts and it feeds the Trevi Fountain today, over 2000 years after its original construction! You can see physical parts of the conduits that carry water the Trevi Fountain just around the corner from the fountain. The address listed below is in a small alley. You’ll see a metal fence and a plaque reading “Acuedotto Vergine”.
There is not much else to see here, but it is pretty cool to get a view of the inner workings of the water system. This is a great stop to hit after you leave the Spanish Steps on your self-guided walking tour. On your way to the Trevi Fountain.
Address: Via del Nazareno, 9a.
3. Oceanus, God of the Sea
In the center of the fountain, you’ll find Oceanus, who was a Titan and the god of the sea. Titan gods were a generation of gods that came before many of the pagan gods famous today such as Zeus (Jupiter) or Apollo. There is a pretty complicated backstory behind the Titans but what is important is that he is the main statue on the front of the Trevi Fountain and he controls the sea.
He rides a shell, like any good god of the sea, which is pulled by two Tritons (think Mer-man from Zoolander). Don’t confuse him with Neptune. Gods are easily identifiable by whoever is around them (think posse). While Oceanus is accompanied by two Tritons, Neptune would have a trident and a dolphin in tow.
The Triton to Oceanus’ right (our left) represents the harshness or roughness of the sea. To his left (our right) you can see the calmness and tranquility of the sea.
Looking for a bite to eat? Check out our annually updated list of the best places to eat near the Trevi Fountain in Rome!
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4. Relief of Young Girl & Troops
Apparently Marcus Agrippa was returning from a long battle on a hot summer day and his troops were dying of dehydration. They were in search of water but none was to be found!
A young girl (virgo in latin) appeared and showed them a source from where they could get fresh water. This new water revitalized the army and they returned to Rome. M. Agrippa went back looking for the young girl, but she was gone. He decided to build an aqueduct from the source that fed into Rome.
You can see this scene depicted in a relief sculpture located above Oceanus (centerpiece) to the right.
5. Relief of M. Agrippa Building Aqua Virgo
You will see another relief equilateral to the first relief. This pictures M. Agrippa approving architectural plans for the aqueduct and you can even see construction happening in the background.
Roman society was very impressive and still is today. They accomplished great feats with few technological resources. The concept and implementation of an aqueduct is considered one of their crowning achievements.
6. Statues of Abundance of Health & Fruits
To the direct left and right of Oceanus, you will see two statues of women. Both statues represent the abundance that water brings – something we take for granted. Aqueducts bring more clean water than the Romans would ever need which allows them to grow crops and fruit, which was and is a luxury, as well as keep good health.
Both statues were sort of status symbols for Romans along with the fountain itself. “We have so much water that we even use it to decorate.
7. Statues of Abundance of Fruits, Fertility of Crops, Products of Autumn, and Joy of Prarie and Gardens.
Following the same theme as above, these four statues represent the abundance water brings. From left to right you’ll see Abundance of Fruit which holds a horn of plenty. The Fertility of Crops which holds wheat ears. Products of Autumn which holds a cup and grapes. Finally Joy of Prarie and Gardens which is adorned with flowers. The last is the most iconic in my opinion. It represents the complete luxury of growing flowers for personal happiness.
8. Ace of Cups
Apparently, when Nicola Salvi was building the fountain, there was a barbershop and a barber within the shop. The barber was not very happy about the construction of the fountain. The barber was short-sighted and didn’t like how the fountain was hurting his business and so he gave Salvi a lot of trouble. It must have been enough trouble to really piss Salvi off.
Salvi was a Baroque artist and Baroque artists love hidden stories and meaning. Creating beautiful works of art is just the first step for guys like Salvi. So, to add to the dimensions of the fountain, he built a vase resembling the Ace of Cups or Asso di Coppe from the Sicilian card game Scopa. The game has complexities, but winning is defined by a final moment where a player throws the final card down and wins.
When Salvi built the Asso di Coppe he built it so that it blocked the Barbershop from the view of anyone standing in front of the fountain – which drew huge crowds similar to today. I imagine when the Barber saw the completed fountain and realized what Salvi did, he felt like someone had just thrown down the Ace of Cups and cleared all the cards off the table.
The barber had been beaten.
9. Column of Marcus Aurelius
Modeled after Trajan’s column built less than a century prior, the Column of Marcus Aurelius is a victory column that details Rome’s triumph over the Sarmatians, Quadi, and Marcomanni in 176 AD. The column itself was likely to be completed around 193 AD after Marcus Aurelius’ death.
The Column is a total of 130 feet tall and was built out of Carrara marble. The blocks it was built from, 28 in total, are hollowed out and put together to form a 200 step staircase to a top platform.
This column along with Trajan’s paint a very detailed picture for historians to connect the dots. Our fear, and likely reality, is that propaganda and exaggerations in these works may alter how history is written but that is the way of the world! Better to have it than to not.
It is an incredible monument that has survived almost 2000 years. In any other city, it would be the main attraction. Here in Rome, it goes almost unnoticed.
10. Piccolo Buco
€€ | Casual | Kids
Food is always part of the journey! This is why we run food tours in every city we operate in. The name of this restaurant is the small hole which is similar to the English saying “Hole in the wall”. The pizza is anything but that.
They cook their pizza in an oven that is over a hundred years old and apparently they don’t make pizza ovens like they used too! I don’t know why that is important, but it always is. The owners are actually from the Trevi Fountain area, which is rare because nobody lives there, and have saved us all from tourist trap armageddon.
This is my number 1 Trevi Fountain pick for a great, cheap, and fun meal.
Address: Via del Lavatore, 91| Hours: 12 – 3pm Thurs – Sunday & 6:30 – 11 pm Tues – Sunday
Once you’re done exploring the Trevi Fountain and surrounding areas click on one of the below icons and move onto yet another one of Rome’s most famous attractions!