Originally built in the 1st century AD, it was re-built between 1732 and 1751 at the orders of Pope Clement XII. At 85 feet (26m) high and 65 feet wide (20m) it is the largest fountain in the city, and among the most beautiful. Sited at the rear of the Palace of the Dukes of Poli, it displays a familiar subject: Neptune, but this time riding a clamshell chariot behind two horses, amid Tritons and flanked by the gods of Health and Wealth.
It is here at the Trevi that hopeful tourists toss coins into the base, prompted by the legend that those who throw three coins into the water will one day return to Rome. The coins represent a healthy sum for the city’s charities. Clever marketing was not unknown even in centuries past.
Nicola Salvi is often credited as the designer, but there are elements that suggest Bernini had a hand in its creation. The water source is from the Aqua Vergine aqueduct, the name of a legend depicted in the fountain itself. A virgin is said to have offered water to thirsty Roman soldiers.