If you’ve been to Rome, you’ve seen the Trevi fountain, or you’ve gotten close enough to squeeze through a crack in the throng and come out somewhere within throwing distance of the big pool.
But did you ever wonder, “where does that water go after tourists have gawked at it and thrown their coins in it?”
For that, you have to go below the street surface of Rome, where they keep all the good, old stuff. Vicus Caprarius – The City of Water, extends 9 meters below street level.
The water that flows from the Trevi fountain, a monumental Baroque exhibition of the Virgin Aqueduct, Acquedotto Vergine (whose excavations brought to light an imposing distribution tank, the castellum aquae) and the water, which filters through the ancient masonry of the Archaeological area, continuing to supply the pipes in lead and the pools of a luxurious residence.
The wall structures found, characterised by the screen in opus latericium and conserved until a height of about eight meters, are attributed to an insula, a blockhouse divided into several independent units that were transformed, in the middle of the fourth century, into a stately domus. — archaeological area of Vicus Caprarius
All this was discovered when the owner of the building, the Cremonini Group, began constructing a restaurant with a modern theater room in 1999 and came upon the imperial age remains. The superintendent of archaeology in Rome immediately suspended work on the structure.
So this is where the corporation rages and complains in public that Rome can never move forward with this burden of the past hanging like a tax on books of virtuous corporations, right? But hold on, this isn’t the case here; the founder of the group Cavalier Luigi Cremonini enthusiastically financed fully the cost of the archaeological investigations, which took nearly two years. Imagine! This enthusiasm for the ancient Roman culture would lay the foundations “for the realization of one of the first examples in Italy of virtuous collaboration between public and private.”
What Can One See in la Città dell’Acqua?
After you pay your small fee (3 euro at the time of writing, half that for those over 65) you’ll march down the stairs until you reach the excavation level. The path ironed out for you is well-documented, as you can see in the picture below.
Then you can explore the watery underground and its cisterns and other constructions that have taken place over the centuries. You’ll find African amphorae for transporting oil, as well as a stash of coins.
And yes, there’s water in the bottom of those cysterns:
How to Beat the Enormous Entrance Fee (3 euro)
You can stay at the nearby Harry’s Bar Hotel & Restaurant and get into the excavations FREE! It’s a great location.
The Roman Underground
The City of Water is just a small part of the fascinating world under the streets of Rome. A visit takes a short time, an hour at most, so you’ll have time to explore the neighborhood of the Trevi Fountain.
Directly to the east of the Vicus Caprarius you’ll find the Quirinal Palace and Gardens. A short walk to the west will take you to Il Tempio di Adriano, Hadrian’s Temple, set in a piazza with wine and cocktail bars. A little further on is the Pantheon.
Map and Information on the City of Water
Vicolo del Puttarello, 25
(Trevi Fountain area) – Rome