'Truly foolish': Row erupts over planned anti-tourist barrier at Rome's Trevi Fountain

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'Truly foolish': Row erupts over planned anti-tourist barrier at Rome's Trevi Fountain
Photo: AFP

A plan to build a barrier around Rome's Trevi Fountain has attracted heavy criticism from arts and heritage experts since being approved by the city council last week.


It's hoped that a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the famous Roman landmark would stop tourists from sitting on or swimming in it, according to the council motion approved on Friday.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But experts have voiced dismay over the plan, calling it “foolish” and saying it would ruin the view of the monument.

“Installing a barrier seems a frightful offence against the beauty of a masterpiece which gives itself generously to those who observe it," architect and historian Paolo Portoghesi told Italian media.

He added that he finds the plan "truly foolish", and said it would be enough to have police on patrol at the tourist hotspot.

"If they are not used for specific dangers, gates are follies that destroy the sense of the city," he added. "Rome has always sought a direct relationship with those who live there and those who visit it."

Rome's former archaeological superintendent Adriano La Regina added: "As far as the Trevi Fountain is concerned, you have to see it. If tourists aren't standing or sitting in an unseemly way, and do not get in the way of visiting the fountain, why drive them away?"

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi defended the plan in a Facebook post, saying it was "common sense" and that the barrier “would not obscure the view of the Trevi Fountain, and would allow the traditional tossing of coins, a ritual for anyone who visits our city.”

Raggi added that the barrier would be similar to existing barriers protecting Roman fountains such as at the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini in Piazza Navona.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy 

The official motion also called for action against unauthorised street sellers hawking goods in the surrounding streets piazzas.

Raggi claimed the barrier would free up police offers' time and let them focus on tackling illegal street trading.

The motion urged "continuous patrols" in areas including the Roman Forum, the shopping areas of Via del Corso, Via del Babuino and Via Condotti, and the Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna

"There must be respect for the symbolic parts of Roma Capitale," the motion stated.

The city banned tourists from sitting on the Trevi Fountain, and other city fountains, around a year ago as part of a raft of new rules against bad behaviour in the city, but police haven't always been able to enforce these rules.

Tourists were also specifically warned against swimming in the fountains during hot weather last July. Anyone caught doing so can face a fine of up to 450 euros.

Despite this, many people still climb on the fountain, wash their feet in it, or take a dip in it in hot weather, with some attempting to recreate the famous scene between Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP


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