Rome delays taking Trevi Fountain coins away from charity

Capital delays plan to claim tourists' coins from Rome charity Caritas.

Rome's cash-strapped city administration has back-tracked on its contentious plan to claim the coins tossed by tourists into the waters of the Trevi Fountain - estimated at up to €1.4 million a year - breaking an historic agreement with Catholic charity Caritas.

The plan, mooted last October by Rome's deputy mayor Luca Bergamo of the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle, would have seen the city take control of the coins from 1 April, directing the funds into municipal "assistance and solidarity projects."

However instead of abandoning the idea, the city has delayed the decision until 31 December, ordering a study group to come up with alternative solutions of how to manage the fountain's vast amount of coins.

Caritas, which has refused to comment directly on the city's plan, relies on the swept-up change to provide help to the city's homeless people and families in financial difficulty.

Tourists queue up to throw coins into the Trevi Fountain each day. AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia.

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. Each morning around €3,000 worth of coins are swept up before making their way to Caritas which was founded in Rome in 1971.

The character most associated with the Trevi's coins is the late Roberto Cercelletta, better known to Romans as "D'Artagnan", who for years would wade into the fountain to steal the coins at dawn, up until his death in 2013.