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Where Do Wishes Land? The Story Behind Coins in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

A wide, panoramic view of the iconic Trevi Fountain in Rome, featuring its large baroque-style facade with sculptures and the central figure of Ocean. Crowds of tourists can be seen gathered around the fountain.

The Trevi Fountain’s Secret Impact

Visitors to Rome’s iconic Trevi Fountain toss coins, making wishes for love and health, unknowingly supporting those in need. Caritas, a global Catholic charity, collects the coins, turning tourist offerings into funds for food banks, soup kitchens, and welfare programs. In 2022 alone, 1.4 million euros ($1.52 million) were raised from the fountain, with expectations to surpass that in 2023. Rome’s status as a top tourist destination ensures a steady stream of generosity, demonstrating how a simple gesture can make a profound difference.

Behind the Scenes

Workers carefully extract coins from the Trevi Fountain, balancing on its edge using brooms and suction hoses before handing them over to Caritas for charity projects. The coins are dried with hairdryers and cutlery dryers, then painstakingly counted and sorted. Tourists, aware of the impact of their offerings, happily toss coins into the fountain as they pose for photos, following the tradition that promises a return to Rome. The Trevi Fountain stands not only as a symbol of beauty but also as a beacon of hope, uniting visitors in their shared acts of kindness.

The Process

Twice a week, workers carefully collect coins from the Trevi Fountain using brooms and suction hoses. After the fountain has been drained for cleaning twice a month, coins are piled up in buckets, ready for collection, drying, and sorting. The coins are then taken to the Caritas office, where they are spread out and dried on a large table. Francesco Prisco, a manager at the ACEA utility company, ensures the collection is carried out as quickly as possible to reduce the fountain’s downtime. Despite its iconic status, visitors to the fountain today face fines for wading into its waters. Nonetheless, it remains a symbol of hope and unity as tourists continue to offer coins and wishes, unknowingly supporting charity efforts through their generosity.

More Than Just Coins

Beyond coins, workers have discovered an array of unexpected treasures in the Trevi Fountain, including jewellery, dentures, religious medals, and even umbilical cords. Due to such incidents, signs caution visitors against stealing the coins. Over the years, opportunistic individuals have resorted to using magnets attached to poles to pilfer the offerings. Meanwhile, near Rome’s main station, Caritas operates the Emporium, a supermarket that provides food to those in need. Needy residents can access this lifeline by purchasing food with special tokens on a card, ensuring support reaches the deserving, making a positive impact on the community.

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