The Magic of the Trevi Fountain

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day!

Rome is the resting place of Saint Valentine himself (more accurately, his skull), and it is tradition to visit the saint, in the marvelous medieval church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, on his name day. But Rome also has another romantic tradition.

The Trevi Fountain is associated with a bit of romantic magic. While most tourists have heard that you should throw a coin in the fountain to ensure your return to the Eternal City, the tradition is actually to throw three coins in the fountain. It is the second and third coins that deal with love. The second coin grants you a new romance, and the third coin grants you a happy marriage (supposedly, in Italy).

Keep in mind that there are rules to make the magic work.  Each coin is to be thrown separately using your right hand, tossed over your left shoulder, with your back to the fountain.

The tradition of the Trevi Fountain was on full display in the 1954 film, titled aptly enough, Three Coins in the Fountain.

The movie poster for Three Coins in the Fountain

In the movie, three American women toss their coins in the fountain, and all find love and marriage in Italy — all after traipsing all over the Eternal City through various comedic mishaps.

The movie has a wonderful theme song, performed by none other than Frank Sinatra:


Fast forward to the 1990s when a young woman threw a lot of coins in the Trevi. It was her last day in Italy before flying back to the United States. This was back in the day, before the euro. She had a big handful of Italian lire to use up and so, one after another, she tossed each coin in the fountain, following the tradition. After all, the coins were (and are) collected and donated to charity, and she thought throwing the coins in was a lovely tradition.

But, this was more than just a cute tradition. The Trevi Fountain worked its magic. A few years later, she returned to Rome and married me in a building designed by Michelangelo, at the Campidoglio, in the heart of the Eternal City.