Rome Mulls Ban on Stops at Iconic Trevi Fountain to Foil Rude Tourists

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Tourist visit the Trevi Fountain in 2013 in Rome, Italy. The mayor is considering forbidding people to stop at the monument. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A visit to the Trevi Fountain may take a lot less time in the future, according to Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi.

Every day hundreds of tourists line up to admire the fountain’s baroque magnificence, tucked in the side streets of Rome’s city centre.

Many stop and sit in front of the 18th century monument, snapping photos, eating gelato , turning their backs to the fountain just before leaving to throw in a coin which—according to a popular belief—will ensure your safe return to the eternal city.  

But this may all be about to change. A renewed discussion over how preserve the city’s heritage from disrespectful visitors and protect citizens and visitors from potential security threats is leading Raggi to consider drastic measures—such as devising a path that will allow people to admire the fountain without stopping.

“We have a municipal police force of around 5,000 people, their average age is very high, between 55 and 60 years old. They patrol the streets, but they are also patrolling the monuments. At Trevi Fountain we are establishing not only more frequent shifts, but also a walking path that won’t allow for a stop” the mayor said, interviewed on the Italian TV show Porta a Porta on May 9.

Raggi complained that the city’s security needs far exceed the resources available.

“Rome is full of monuments and sites. We are already patrolling them 24/7, but I still do not have the power to multiply the officers. If more officers patrol the monuments, less of them will be on the streets”, she added.

The proposal follows a series of recent episodes involving tourists bathing in the fountain, which is forbidden in order to preserve the monument. Blame it on Federico Fellini, the director of the cult movie La Dolce Vita, which featured actor Anita Ekberg bathing in the Trevi Fountain—inspiring generations of visitors to replicate the iconic scene, or at least to see the fountain for themselves.

12_05_La Dolce Vita_01 Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni and his Swedish colleague Anita Ekberg in Rome's famous 'Fontana di Trevi' during the shooting of the Federico Fellini 1960 movie 'La Dolce Vita'. The iconic scene has inspired thousands to people to visit and attempt bathing in the fountain. AFP/Getty Images

A spokesperson for the Rome municipality tells Newsweek that the proposal is still under discussion and that there is no update further to the mayor’s announcement. The spokesperson did, however, talk about a need to save the city’s monuments from an “assault” of rude visitors, whom, he said, seek social media glory.

The authorities detained a naked Italian swimmer who pretended to be a foreigner in April, and in the beginning of May, a 25-year-old Danish woman received a fine of unspecified amount for swimming in the fountain, the Italian News Agency Ansa reported.

The city is also still reeling from another episode that caused widespread outrage. In 2015, dozens of Dutch hooligans who were in Rome to support the Feyenoord soccer team trashed the city in a two-day rampage, particularly damaging La Barcaccia’s fountain at the bottom of Spanish steps, which had undergone restoration work less than six months earlier.

12_05_Dutch Hooligans in Rome_01 Dutch hooligans stand next to the fountain called "Barcaccia". The two-day rampage that damaged several sites in the eternal city is still vivid in Rome citizens' memory. Yara Nardi/Reuters