The water is an unnatural blue. I push past a throng of Chinese tourists who are trying to figure out which shoulder they are supposed to throw their coin over to bring them good luck. As I approach the border of the Trevi Fountain, I can look to the bottom of the pool and see the glint of many a Euro coin at the bottom. How I would love to reach in and scoop out a couple of them for a gelato. The caribinieri eye me. Their police senses are tingling – they can tell what I am thinking. A selfie snapshot later and I’m back up the steps, passing by the Chinese tourists who still haven’t quite figured it out, and continue on my morning run along the city.
This is the scene that repeats itself morning after morning for about two weeks. The backstreets leading up to this fountain are so “Roman” and the fountain itself a spectacular reason to stop running for a pause and take a photo on my iPhone.
Yesterday, though, I was greeted by a less pretty sight. At first, I was livid. HOW DARE THEY EMPTY THE FOUNTAIN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MORNING? I felt sorry for all the people who had their ONE CHANCE to see the fountain and throw a coin into it to guarantee their return to Roma.
But then I realized I was witnessing quite a unique spectacle. I had always wondered, ‘how do they get rid of the coins?!’ These three men had been put up to the task of doing just that. They swept the floors, gathering the euro coins, casually dumping the contents into a plastic bucket. They acted like they were sweeping up litter. Didn’t they realize how many trips for hot chocolate that could get them with each sweep?
The money, I found out later, goes to a charity called Caritas Ambrosiana. And tourists end up throwing in up to 3,500 dollars a day into the fountain. Wow.
So while I was disappointed at first to not see the Trevi Fountain in all of its fountain-y glory, it was a unique opportunity to see the necessary maintenance in order to clear the fountain of the euro coins.