Tourists could be made to file past the Trevi Fountain on a designated pathway rather than linger at their leisure as officials in Rome warn that overcrowding at the monument has got out of hand.
The Baroque monument was catapulted to fame by the 1960 film La Dolce Vita but the days when visitors could admire it in relative solitude – let alone wade into waist-deep it as Anita Ekberg did in the Federico Fellini classic – are long gone.
Nowadays the fountain, and the piazza in which it is located, is packed with tourists night and day.
Visitors clamber over the flanks of the imposing monument, drop melting ice cream on its travertine stone and dangle their feet in the water to cool off during the summer months.
The tourist hordes attract a small army of itinerant vendors peddling selfie sticks, postcards and fridge magnets, as well as street artists dressed as Roman centurions and legionaries.
“We’re looking at the idea of having a route which would allow tourists to see the Trevi Fountain but without stopping,” Andrea Coia, a city councilor, told La Repubblica newspaper.
The aim would be to replace the current free-for-all with controlled access to the fountain, “because the situation has become unlivable”, said Mr Coia, a member of the populist Five Star Movement.
A similar proposal was trialed last July but dropped a couple of months later.
If revived on a permanent basis, the city would deploy police officers to make sure visitors stick to the route and walk in the same direction.
There might just be time to toss a coin into the water over the left shoulder – a popular ritual that supposedly guarantees you will return to the Eternal City one day.
Sabrina Alfonsi, a municipal representative, cautiously welcomed the idea but said the piazza needed to remain accessible to local residents.
“It needs to be a piazza that belongs to the whole city, a living place,” she said.
Celebrated as one of Rome’s must-see attractions, the Trevi Fountain also proves irresistible to drunks, exhibitionists and sweaty tourists longing for a refreshing dip during the torrid heat of the summer.
Two years ago, a British woman named Delilah Jay waded into the fountain in an evening dress, in imitation of Ms Ekberg’s scene with Italian heartthrob Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita.
She blew kisses to crowds of tourists but was then apprehended by police officers and fined €450.
In March, two Scottish rugby fans were each fined €450 after celebrating Scotland’s victory over Italy in the Six Nations tournament by plunging into the fountain.
The men, one of whom was wearing a kilt as he performed a leisurely breast-stroke through the frigid water, were also hauled out by police.
Consisting of a grand central arch, marble pillars and allegorical figures surrounded by gushing water, the Trevi Fountain was completed in 1762 after 30 years of work.
Standing at the centre of the whole tableau is a statue of the god Oceanus commanding a chariot pulled by horses.
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