If you’ve been to Rome, you’ve likely seen the Trevi Fountain. It is a magnificent attraction, with its depiction of Neptune and sea horses and other sea creatures atop craggy rocks. When we visited Rome during a very hot summer some years ago, the Trevi Fountain was a delightful place to sit, enjoy the spray of the cool water, and appreciate the beauty while taking a break from sightseeing.
Unfortunately, the Trevi Fountain is badly in need of repair. Earlier this year, some pieces of the 250-year-old fountain — commissioned by one of those civic-minded Popes, Clement XII — broke off. Fortunately, an Italian mineral water company, Acqua Claudia, has agreed to foot the $250,000 cost of the immediately needed restorations. Whether funding will be located for the more long-term repair work on the fountain that is desperately needed is another question.
The condition of the Trevi Fountain is symptomatic of a larger problem in countries with significant cultural sites. Italy, Greece, and Spain, to name just a few, are terribly cash-strapped. It’s hard to believe that such countries, which reap huge economic benefits from tourism, would neglect the sites that attract those tourists in the first place, but paying to maintain crumbling monuments, old buildings, fountains, and churches, is pushing budgets to the limit.
I hope that other companies step up, as Acqua Claudia has, to help the Italian government maintain Italy’s many irreplaceable architectural and artistic landmarks. Generations to come should have the chance to see the Trevi Fountain in all its glory, rather than a heap of dust and rubble.