Where should the coins thrown into Rome's fountains go?

The millions of euros collected every year from the iconic fountains of Rome go to Caritas, a Catholic charitable organization, not into the city's coffers. Despite promises, the new mayor will not change this.

Cinzia Sciuto
Cinzia Sciuto MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
Where should the coins thrown into Rome's fountains go? - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

Is there a tourist in Rome who has not launched a coin into the Trevi Fountain? Probably not. This gesture has been repeated millions of times, by millions of tourists and likely equals millions of euros. However, this "treasure trove" -- which could be filling the coffers of Rome -- are being handed over to Caritas.

Whatever the merit of Caritas' activities, it is an ecclesiastical organization -- an offshoot of the Italian Episcopal Conference -- it is not a civic body. The Trevi Fountain is the property of the city and the money that it contains belongs to the city and should be managed by them.

And yet the city administration of Rome renounces this "treasure". The funds could be used by the municipality itself to aid the less fortunate rather than being handed over to the Church. 

This is a small story but an emblematic one, for it illustrates the great subservience shown by Italian politicians to the Vatican.

It is also a deference shown by Rome's mayor, Virginia Raggi. She had previously announced that the money collected from the fountains would remain with the city. Yet, after protests from the Vatican, she quickly reversed her decision.

It would have been nice if the first female mayor of Rome had also been the first to hold her head high in front of the Vatican. It is also interesting to note that Raggi, a representative of the 5 Star Movement which presents itself as "counter-power", was so eager to give way to the Church.

Details from the story:

  • Since 2001, the coins that tourists throw into the Fountains of Rome -- the most famous of which is the Trevi Fountain -- are collected and donated by the Municipality to Caritas, an organ of the Italian Episcopal Conference that deals with social assistance.
  • A few months ago, Mayor Virginia Raggi, from the 5 Star Movement, had approved a resolution stating that money found in the city's fountains should be managed by the Municipality.
  • After protests by the Vatican, the resolution was withdrawn; the coins will continue to flow into the coffers of Caritas.

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