In the middle of the 17th century, Pope Innocent X, the Pamphilj pope, employed Gian Lorenzo Bernini to build a magnificent fountain of the Four Rivers to beautify Piazza Navona, where he lived in Palazzo Pamphilj with his hated sister-in-law, Olimpia Maidalchini, and where Borromini had designed and built the church of S. Agnese in Agone. To pay for these expensive works Innocent X imposed a very unpopular tax on bread.
Restoration of the fountain is due to begin once again but this time Romans are not being taxed to pay for the works. The ministry of culture and fine art will be providing the first 146,000 to pay for studies, research, preliminary scaffolding and then will come up with a further 500,000 for the actual works. The architect responsible for the project, Anna Maria Pandolfi, has explained that the aim is not to make the fountain as new but to reflect the venerable age of the work. The city's light and water utility, ACEA, which provides water for the fountain, has agreed to a new circulation system to this and the other two fountains in the square; the water will be filtered and re-circulated, in order to reduce the calcium encrustations on the fountains. Air pollution in the vicinity of the fountain will be monitored and finally there will be a system to give very low voltage shocks to deter pigeons and other birds from settling on the fountain and damaging its travertine with their excrement and claws.
Half the fountain at a time will be covered and worked on, in order that visitors will not be deprived of the whole monument. Works are expected to take about a year.