Every day, some $ 3,500 worth of coins are thrown into RomeTrevi Fountain by tourists who make vows. This scene, made famous by the 1954 film "Three Coins in the Fountain", was a boon for a local charity.
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But a leaked document suggesting that the administration of the mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, might want to keep these coins for the empty coffers of the city has caused confusion – and aroused the concern of many supporters of the organization.
After a weekend of social media scandal, Raggi said Monday that this money would stay at Caritas Rome's local Catholic charity, a plan in place since 2001, when the then mayor, Francesco Rutelli, had ended unauthorized private collection of coins. .
"I confirm that [the coins] will remain available for the charitable activities of the diocesan body ", Raggi told L & # 39; Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, in Italian. "No one has ever thought of depriving Caritas of these funds."
For nearly two decades, the city periodically emptied the fountain, pocketed the coins and, in the presence of the Rome police, delivered them to the offices of Caritas Rome where they were separated, counted and deposited in their bank account. .
The money – about 15% of Caritas Rome's annual budget – has been earmarked for soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other projects for poor communities in Rome.
A man looks at the Trevi Fountain during a snowfall in Rome on February 26, 2018.
The Raggi administration proposed for the first time to use Trevi's coins for infrastructure and cultural heritage of Rome in 2017. The idea was immediately attacked by opposition politicians and by the church, then postponed to one year.
The mayor had called a meeting at City Hall on Tuesday to finalize a new plan on the distribution of funds.
In a headline this weekend, The Avvenire, a document associated with the Italian Catholic Bishops' Conference, wrote that Raggi's plan to keep the coins for the city amounted to "Money taken from the poorest. "
Caritas Rome has published a declaration of gratitude on his Facebook page to all those who challenged the mayor's plan to redirect money from the poor to the city.
Raggi and his administration, elected in 2016, have been criticized for not having cleaned up the finances of the city.
Earlier this month, the president of the Association of School Principals warned in a letter to the mayor that schools should be closed if the city did not improve garbage collection – compounded by a suspicious investigation. fire in December destroyed one of the main incinerators in the city.
In October, thousands have protested with complaints about the poor state of Rome's streets, an unreliable public transport system and deplorable conditions due to heaps of uncollected waste.