Rome's Storied Trevi Fountain Crumbling
Budget cuts endangering city's ancient heritage
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2012 5:56 AM CDT
A view of the Trevi Fountain in central Rome.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – If Rome's famous Trevi fountain could chuck a coin into itself and make a wish, it would probably ask for some TLC. The 280-year-old monument's stucco reliefs are crumbling and a gargoyle's head came tumbling down on the weekend, reports the Guardian. Officials blame the damage on a wet winter, but critics say funding cuts are responsible for a dangerous amount of deterioration at the city's monuments.

"We are asking Romans to tip us off to sites which are not being taken care of," says Green Party leader Angelo Bonelli, pointing to damage at the Colosseum and at Nero's palace, which has been closed to visitors since a roof collapsed last year. Rome's cultural heritage superintendent admits there is a problem, but says it is tough to keep up with the city's huge number of ancient monuments. Sections of the Aurelian walls surrounding the city have collapsed in recent years, but the heritage chief says hasty methods employed by its 3rd-century builders are largely to blame.