Rome charity missing Trevi Fountain coins

Rome's lack of tourists means massive drop in funds for Trevi Fountain charity.

Italy's Coronavirus emergency continues to have knock-on effects on all aspects of society, even the most unexpected.With the sudden and complete fall-off of tourists in Rome, the Catholic charity Caritas is now feeling the pinch.

Caritas is the beneficiary of the coins tossed into the Trevi Fountain - estimated at €1.5 million annually - which helps its volunteers to care for the city's homeless people and families in financial difficulty.

However, due to the Covid-19 crisis, the charity has only received €190,000 worth of coins so far this year, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

It is worth remembering that it was only two months ago that the city announced the installation of a barrier to protect the Baroque fountain from the hordes of tourists.

These crowds dwindled fast in late February due to the Coronavirus emergency in northern Italy, crippling the capital's crucial tourist sector overnight, and on 10 March the fountain was sealed off completely.

More than a year ago Rome's city council backtracked on its contentious plan to claim the tourists' coins, taking them away from Caritas which has availed of the tradition since 2001 when it was introduced by centre-left mayor Walter Veltroni, before being continued by subsequent administrations.Announcing the u-turn at the time, the mayor Virginia Raggi told Vatican daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that the Trevi coins would remain in the hands of the charity, stating that "nobody ever thought of depriving Caritas of these funds."

Raggi said that in addition to the Trevi coins, the city would give Caritas the coins collected from other Roman fountains, amounting to an annual total of €200,000.

According to tradition, tourists who throw coins into the waters of the Baroque monument - with right hand over left shoulder with eyes closed - are guaranteed to return to the Eternal City.

Photo credit: alexfan32 / Shutterstock.com