History before 1629
The fountain at the junction of three roads (tre vie) marks the terminal point of the "modern" Acqua Vergine, the revived Aqua Virgo, one of the aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome. In 19 BC, supposedly with the help of a virgin, Roman technicians located a source of pure water some 13 km (8.1 mi) from the city. (This scene is presented on the present fountain's façade.) However, the eventual indirect route of the aqueduct made its length some 22 km (14 mi). This Aqua Virgo led the water into the Baths of Agrippa. It served Rome for more than 400 years.
Commission, construction, and design
In 1629, Pope Urban VIII, finding the earlier fountain insufficiently dramatic, asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini to sketch possible renovations, but the project was abandoned when the pope died. Though Bernini's project was never constructed, there are many Bernini touches in the fountain as it exists today. An early, influential model by Pietro da Cortona, preserved in the Albertina, Vienna, also exists, as do various early 18th century sketches, most unsigned, as well as a project attributed to Nicola Michetti one attributed to Ferdinando Fuga and a French design by Edmé Bouchardon.
Competitions had become popular during the Baroque era to design buildings, fountains, as well as the Spanish Steps. In 1730, Pope Clement XII organized a contest in which Nicola Salvi initially lost to Alessandro Galilei – but due to the outcry in Rome over a Florentine having won, Salvi was awarded the commission anyway. Work began in 1732.
Salvi died in 1751 with his work half finished, but he had made sure a barber's unsightly sign would not spoil the ensemble, hiding it behind a sculpted vase, called by Romans the asso di coppe, the "Ace of Cups", because of its resemblance to a Tarot card. Four different sculptors were hired to complete the fountain's decorations: Pietro Bracci (whose statue of Oceanus sits in the central niche), Filippo della Valle, Giovanni Grossi, and Andrea Bergondi. Giuseppe Pannini was hired as architect.
The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 by Pannini, who substituted the present allegories for planned sculptures of Agrippa and Trivia, the Roman virgin. It was officially opened and inaugurated on 22 May by Pope Clement XIII.
The majority of the piece is made from Travertine stone, quarried near Tivoli, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) east of Rome.
The fountain was refurbished once in 1988 to remove discoloration caused by smog, and again in 1998; the stonework was scrubbed and all cracks and other areas of deterioration were repaired by skilled artisans, and the fountain was equipped with recirculating pumps.
In January 2013, it was announced that the Italian fashion company Fendi would sponsor a 20-month, 2.2-million-euro restoration of the fountain; it was to be the most thorough restoration in the fountain's history.
Restoration work began in June 2014 and was completed in November 2015. The fountain was reopened with an official ceremony on the evening of 3 November 2015. The restoration included the installation of more than 100 LED lights to improve the nighttime illumination of the fountain.