Rome: controversy over Trevi Fountain barrier

Experts critical of plan to install barrier around Rome landmark.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi has defended the city's plan to install a protective barrier around the Trevi Fountain, saying that it would not impede the view of the Baroque monument or affect the tradition of flinging coins into its waters.

Raggi said the barrier would be similar to structures already in place around certain Roman fountains such as the Turtle Fountain in Piazza Mattei, or the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini in Piazza Navona.

Describing the plan as "common sense", Raggi said the barrier would allow police to concentrate on curbing illegal trading in the surrounding piazza which the city recently rid of souvenir stands.

However several noted experts disagree strongly with the plan, as reported in Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. The most trenchant of these critics is the architect and historian Paolo Portoghesi who finds the proposal "truly foolish", according to La Repubblica.

Portoghesi believes it is sufficient to have officers on duty to tell tourists how to behave, forbidding them from sitting on the edges of the actual fountain, "but installing a barrier seems a frightening offence to the beauty of a masterpiece that gives itself generously to those who observe it."

Urban planner Vezio De Lucia is also against the proposal, comparing it to the ban on sitting at the Spanish Steps, which has resulted in "everyone sitting at the Barcaccia" fountain below.

"The problem of pressure from tourism exists, in Rome as in Venice, as well as in many other art cities" - De Lucia told La Repubblica - "but it cannot be solved with these ideas of false decorum."

The Trevi Fountain was also in the news in recent days after plans were unveiled to open a secret balcony above the 18th-century landmark.

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Rome: controversy over Trevi Fountain barrier

Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy