Tensions have arisen between the mayor of Rome and the Roman Catholic Church over how the huge amount of coins thrown into the famous Trevi Fountain will be spent.
Mayor Virginia Raggi, who took office in 2016, and her government decided that the approximately 1.5 million euros ($ 1.72 million) in coins launched each year by tourists and benefactors in the waters of the tourist site should be spent for the ruined infrastructure of Rome, the BBC reported Monday. However, the large sum of money is traditionally donated to the Caritas Catholic Charity Association.
The policy change is expected to come into effect in April, but the Catholic Church is defending itself, saying that this measure would hurt the poor. Avvenire, the diary of the Italian Bishops' Conference, published a weekend article denouncing this decision, entitled "Money pulled from the poorest".
Tourists and visitors gather around the 18th century Baroque Trevi Fountain in downtown Rome on August 26, 2018 VINCENZO PINTO / AFP / Getty Images
"We had not expected this result," said Benitas Ambarus' father, director of Caritas, according to Euro News. "I still hope it will not be final."
According to the BBC, Raggi is under pressure from the inhabitants of Rome to attack the growing problems of the city. Although she presented herself as a candidate against the institution and promised to tackle social problems, Ms. Raggi had to face protests against her government's failure to collect garbage and repair cobblestone streets, among other problems.
The Italian press has described the conflict between the city and the church, whose seat is in the Vatican, located in Rome, the "battle of the coins". according to Deutsche Welle. Raggi rebuffed the critics, saying she was "irritated" by the way the movement had been characterized, while insisting that Caritas would still receive some of the funds.
Caritas urged Raggi to reconsider his remarks, stressing "the many concerns expressed by journalists, politicians, priests and many citizens who have adopted social media" to express their dissatisfaction with the city's decision.
A worker picks up coins in the Trevi Fountain on May 2, 2017 in Rome during the usual monthly cleaning. ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP / Getty Images
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous attractions in the world. It was built in the 1700s at the end of an ancient Roman aqueduct that was carrying water in the city for centuries. Millions of tourists visit the site every year, often throwing coins into the fountain. It is also a popular place for lovers to propose marriage.
Trevi has been immortalized in many films. His most iconic cameos were in 1954 Three coins in the fountain, who popularized the tradition of the silver jet in his water, and the film of 1960 The good life, in which actress Anita Ekberg was walking in the Trevi in black evening dress.