Trevi Fountain opens after Fendi makeover

Its elaborate Baroque facade now sparkles in the sun, scaffold-free: Rome's Trevi Fountain will gush its emerald waters once again on Tuesday after a clean-up funded by Italian fashion house Fendi.

Trevi Fountain opens after Fendi makeover
Rome's Trevi Fountain. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Crowds of frustrated tourists have spent months peeking at bits of the monument from a special walkway put in over the fountain while repairs were carried out to the tune of over €2.0 million ($2.2 million).

The basin was drained 16 months ago but the most determined visitors could still be seen slinging coins over their shoulders – a tradition which is said to ensure a return to Rome – in the hope of getting them into a small substitute pool.

Now the fountain, made famous by a scene in Fellini's “La Dolce Vita” in which Anita Ekberg wades through its pristine waters, makes the surrounding buildings in Rome's historic centre look decidedly shabby.

German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld – Fendi's creative director, famed for his dark glasses, leather gloves and shock of white hair – is expected at the scene for the moment the taps are turned back on at 5pm local time.

Water will once more cascade from the base of the fountain's sea-God scene to the delight of snap-happy tourists as the Italian house's designer Silvia Venturini Fendi and CEO Pietro Beccari look on.

The nearly 300-year-old monument, visited by millions of tourists every year, hit the headlines in 2012 after bits of its elaborate cornice began falling off following a particularly harsh winter.

Virgin waters

Emergency repairs cost €320,000, and a survey of the monument found that more critical work was needed, prompting a cash-strapped city hall to appeal to large companies and donors for funding. Fendi answered the call.

The company, founded as a leather goods business in Rome in the 1920s and now part of French luxury giant LVMH, signed up to a deal which allows it to hang a plaque near the monument for four years.

It also funded the restoration of the Quattro Fontane – the late Renaissance fountains which grace each corner of a busy intersection in the capital.

It was not the only fashion house to leap to the aid of the eternal city's ailing monuments: luxury jeweller Bulgari has begun cleaning up the city's famous Spanish Steps, while shoemaker Tod's is financing works at the Colosseum.

The Trevi Fountain, commissioned by Pope Clement XII in 1730, is the end point of one of the aqueducts that supplied ancient Rome with water and was last restored 23 years ago.

The Acqua Vergine runs for a total of 20 kilometres and ends up in the fountain, where tourists can drink it from a special tap tucked away at one side of the monument.

Legend has it the water source was discovered in 19 BC by thirsty Roman soldiers guided to the site by a young virgin — hence the name, Virgin Waters.

The tradition of throwing coins into the fountain was made famous by Frank Sinatra's rendition of “Three Coins in the Fountain” in the 1954 romantic comedy film of the same name.

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Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.