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The Trevi Fountain in Rome (Wikimedia, Giorgio Galeotti)

For hundreds of years, visitors have descended on Rome’s Trevi Fountain to make a wish, following a ritual coin toss. But the coins the tourists rarely give a second thought to actually provide practical help to people they will never meet. Source: ABC News.

Coins pile up for several days before they are fished out and taken to Caritas. The charity counts out bucketfuls of change which then funds a soup kitchen, a food bank and welfare projects. 

In 2022, 1.4 million euros ($2.3 million) was gathered, and the city expects to have collected even more in 2023.

The coin extraction itself is a spectacle and involves the use of suction hoses and long brooms by utility workers who balance on the edge of the baroque fountain. 

The Trevi Fountain, completed in 1762, covers one side of Palazzo Poli in central Rome with its statues of Tritons guiding the shell chariot of the god Oceanus, illustrating the theme of the taming of the waters. Wading into its waters today is forbidden and tourists face fines if they do.

The coin collection happens twice a week and the fountain is drained for cleaning twice a month. 

After the coins have been swept into a long line by a long-reach broom, they are sucked up by hoses and taken to Caritas’s office, where employee Fabrizio Marchioni spreads them across a huge table for drying.

But not just coins are fished from the fountain floor. Works say they have removed jewellery, dentures and even umbilical cords. 

The effects of the millions in donations can be seen not far from the fountain. 

Close to Rome’s main station is Caritas’s supermarket, known as the Emporium, which allocates food to needy residents who can purchase it with tokens on a card.


Visitors’ coins in Rome’s Trevi Fountain provide practical help to Italians (ABC News