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Rome's Trevi Fountain gets $2.9 million facelift

Monday - 1/28/2013, 8:00pm  ET

Tourists gather at Trevi's fountain, in Rome, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. The Fendi fashion house is financing an euro 2.12 million ($2.8 million) restoration of Trevi Fountain in Rome, famed as a setting for the film "La Dolce Vita'' and the place where dreamers leave their coins. The 20-month project on one of the city's most iconic fountains was being unveiled at a city hall press conference Monday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

NICOLE WINFIELD
Associated Press

ROME (AP) -- Rome's 18th-century Trevi Fountain, famed as a setting for the film "La Dolce Vita," is getting a EUR2.18 million ($2.9 million) restoration courtesy of the Fendi fashion house.

The 20-month project on one of the city's most iconic fountains was unveiled at a city hall press conference Monday featuring Fendi designers Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi, who said the project combined a love of Rome's past with a need to preserve its future.

Rome's fountains, Lagerfeld said, "are there to glorify water, which is the most important thing in life."

It's the latest example of Italian fashion companies coming to the aid of Italy's chronically underfunded cultural heritage. The founder of the Tod's footwear company is footing the bill for the EUR25 million (nearly $34 million) restoration of Rome's ancient Colosseum, and Mayor Gianni Alemanno said he hoped these two donations were just the start.

"Without similar initiatives, we won't be able to save the cultural memory of our country," Alemanno said.

Fendi is also donating EUR320,000 ($430,000) to restore another fountain complex in Rome, the Quattro Fontane.

The landmark Trevi Fountain is a must-see on any tourist itinerary. It was famously featured in Federico Fellini's 1960 movie "La Dolce Vita," with Anita Ekberg seductively splashing in the fountain's waters and calling out to leading man Marcello Mastroianni.

Many visitors flip a coin into the fountain: Tradition says that doing so ensures a prompt return to the Eternal City.

The Trevi restoration involves a complete overhaul of the fountain, including cleaning the travertine fa
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