ROME – Most of the tourists who have tossed coins over their shoulder into Rome’s Trevi Fountain over the past 20 years probably did not know that they were helping the city’s poor. But the Rome city government has said no more.
Beginning April 1, the city said, the coins will no longer be delivered to the Rome diocesan Caritas for funding homeless shelters, soup kitchens and parish-based services to families in difficulty.
Instead, the city plans to use the money to help with the upkeep of monuments and to fund grants to “social projects,” which are yet to be defined. It also will hire workers to sort and count the coins, something that Caritas volunteers did for free.
In 2018, the international collection of coins added up to about 1.5 million euros or about $1.7 million.
Interviewed Jan. 12 by Vatican News, Father Benoni Ambarus, director of Caritas Rome, said, “The first thing I want to say is thank you to the millions of tourists who created a sea of solidarity with their coins.”
The priest was still hoping something would change before the change dried up in April. After all, the city council voted in October 2017 to start keeping the money in city coffers, but after a public outcry, the agreement with Caritas was extended to April 2018 and again to Dec. 31, 2018.