The Trevi fountain, designed by the maestro Nicola Salvi, was built between 1732 and 1762. It is a historical place not to be missed by anyone who visits Rome. The fountain was immortalized in celluloid after the release of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. In one unforgettable scene from the acclaimed film, actress Anita Ekberg goes swimming in the fountain late at night, an image ingrained in the history of cinema.
Regrettably in recent years the fountain has suffered much deterioration. The massive influx of tourists and the inclement weather are to be blamed for the corrosion of the Fontana. Fragments from the left side broke apart form the main structure in 2002. Faced with this catastrophic situation, Rome’s City Council, presided by Gianni Alemanno, was forced to seek sponsors to restore the monument. A temporary restoration was put in place, but the €320,000 invested in the project were not enough.
Italian fashion giant Fendi decided to contribute to the restoration by donating an additional €2.2 million for the works, which will last 22 months, and should be completed by 2015. This will be the most thorough cleaning of the fountain in its 251-year history. A prior restoration, done 25 years ago, did not include cleaning the fountain’s mechanism.
The renovation will remove calcium deposits, wash the statues, check the resistance of the existing steel and electrical systems, fix all water leaks and add barriers to keep pigeons away.
Tourists can still visit the Fontana and toss their coins for good luck during the restoration since a screen depicting what lies behind will cover the monument. Silvia Venturini Fendi, Carla Fendi and artistic director, Karl Lagerfeld are very proud of their gift to the city. For Lagerfeld, the Trevi fountain, along with the Coliseum and St. Peter’s square, are the most enduring symbols of Rome. He firmly believes that helping with the restoration, more than an idea, is a responsibility for the Italian brand.
According to Silvia Venturini Fendi, the company, founded by her family in 1925, wanted to give something back to the city that saw the birth and growth of the exclusive label: a “tribute to a city I love, and with which I have very close ties” said the entrepreneur.
If the sponsorship is successful, Fendi may also come on board to support the restoration of the Church of San Carlino, a baroque masterpiece designed by architect Francesco Borromini in 1634.
This is not the first time an Italian fashion house contributes to the upkeep of historical monuments. Tod’s already destined €25 million for the restoration of the Coliseum, and Valentino bestowed €200,000 to upgrades made to the Temple of Venus, where the designer held a grand celebration of his 45 years in fashion.
However, the renovation of the Fontana di Trevi may not follow on the footsteps of the restoration of the Coliseum, mainly because laws have changed and now there will be a public tender. Tod’s donated €25 million in exchange for the exclusive right to use the image of the monument for 15 years, but the works are at a halt because of legal challenges, which could lead to the loss of funding.
Mayor Alemanno’s next project could be the Mausoleum of Augustus, located in Rome’s Piazza Augusto Imperatore, and Roman citizens are already looking for the next fashionable financier to give the city’s monuments a new lease on life. ■