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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 13:57 GMT
Trevi coins to fund food for poor
Rome's Trevi fountain (archive image)

The thousands of coins thrown into Rome's Trevi fountain are to be used by an Italian charity to set up a supermarket for the city's poor.

Tradition holds that visitors can assure their return by tossing a coin over their shoulders into the water.

The estimated 3,000 euros ($4,000, 2,000) which splash daily into the Trevi are collected each night.

Charity Caritas says it plans to set up a supermarket offering essential items free of charge to Rome's needy.

Families will be given a top-up card by their local councils which they can swap for basic food items at the supermarket in central Rome.

Fountain raiders

The Trevi, a Roman landmark since the 18th Century, was popularised by films such as Three Coins In The Fountain and La Dolce Vita.

The money provided by tourists hoping to return to Rome will provide a valuable subsidy to the project, organised with an Italian supermarket chain and the city's council.

In November last year, after a lengthy surveillance operation, Roman police arrested four cleaners caught in possession of coins which they had been taking from the fountain as they cleaned it.

A charity had alerted police after they noticed a sharp dip in the funds they were receiving via the council.

In 2003, a judge cleared a woman accused of stealing from the fountain on the grounds that the money had been discarded and had no rightful owner.

The fountain's most famous raider, known as d'Artagnan, fished coins out of the fountain for 34 years until he was caught in 2002.

The man, whose real name is Roberto Cercelletta, was banned from the fountain when he was finally discovered in the summer of that year.

Trevi coins row re-surfaces
08 Oct 03 |  Europe

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