Fashion house Fendi announces a new restoration project at one of Rome's most famous landmarks, the Trevi Fountain, with creative director Karl Lagerfeld saying he will publish a book of photos of the eternal city's fountains titled "Glory of Water".
ROME, ITALY (JUNE 11, 2012) (REUTERS) - Anita Ekberg, who famously waded in Rome's Trevi Fountain with Marcello Mastroianni in the 1960 classic La Dolce Vita, would probably say "It's about time, darling!"
The fountain, arguably the world's most famous, is about to get the most thorough face-lift since it was completed in 1762 and the restoration was presented on Monday (January 28) by a man who also uses the word darling a lot: fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld.
Lagerfeld is artistic director for Fendi, the Italian fashion house, which is picking up the tab for the restoration, estimated to cost some 2.2 million dollars and last about 20 months.
"It seemed right to make an appropriate gesture to thank this city, a city that since 1925 has offered an ideal homeplace for Maison Fendi, offering inspiration, creativity, aesthetic fervour and culture, a homeplace where our brand has prospered and transformed from a Roman fashion house into a global fashion label through the years,"Fendi's CEO and President Pietro Beccari told reporters at a news conference.
The restoration will clean the whole fountain, which covers the entire facade of Rome's Palazzo Poli with its allegorical statues of Tritong guiding the shell chariot of the god Oseanus.
The restoration will remove calcium deposits, clean the statues, check the strength of steel supporting them, apply new waterproofing to the large basin, fix leaks, install new pumps and electrical plant and add new barriers to keep pigeons away.
But tourists need not worry.
Only a third of the monument will be covered by scaffolding at any time.
They will still be able to toss coins in the basin -- a tradition said to ensure that they will return to Rome.
About a million euros worth of coins are thrown into the basin by tourists each year. All the money goes to a charity that helps the city's needy.
Not surprisingly, the soundtrack from the 1954 film "Three Coins in the Fountain" was played in the background at the project's presentation in Rome's city hall.
"The five Fendi sisters, fascinated by Roman fountains, published a book titled "The Fountains of Rome" which portrayed all of the most beautiful fountains of Rome, thereby including the Trevi Fountain and this made me think that our connection as real Romans with water and the fountains was already in place," said Silvia Fendi, head of accessories at Fendi.
As for the rest, you know that for the Romans water has always been a source of great inspiration, you just need to look at our aqueducts, the baths and our fountains," she added.
The last restoration of the fountain was about 25 years ago but officials said new techniques would make it the most thorough cleaning in the fountain's history.
Lagerfeld told reporters he would be photographing the eternal city's fountains for a new book.
"I think it's a great idea, it's a great project it's a famous fountain, it's famous in the world and it's a symbol of Rome like the Colosseum of St. Peter's. I am happy that we can all help, I am happy to photograph the fountains and to make a book about that called the "Glory of Water" because in fact they are there to glorify water. Water is the most important thing in life anyway to survive," Lagerfeld said.
Luxury shoemaker and leather goods company Tod's is sponsoring a restoration project of the Colosseum.
In tough economic times, Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said, the city appreciated all the help it could get to keep up the capital's vast cultural heritage, calling the Fendis, the "new patrons," likening them to the Medici family of the Renaissance.
"Today, Maison Fendi gives a powerful, generous signal towards a positive tendency which we want to see grow extensively because without the help of this kind of cultural sponsorship we will not manage to safeguard the memories and the traces contained in the great cultural heritage in Italy and perhaps also elsewhere in Europe," Alemanno said.
In exchange for funding the project, Fendi will get only a small sign not much larger than a coffee table book telling tourists that it was the sole sponsor. The sign will stay up for four years after the project is completed.