The Roman poor have scored a win after a promise that the coins thrown in the Fontana di Trevi will come back to a Church charity.

Driving the news

For the past two years, the Rome City Council and mayor Virginia Raggi have been fighting a bitter war with the Catholic Church for the rights to the coins fished out of the famous Roman landmark, the value of which top 1.5 million euros every year.

Go deeper

Traditionally the coins, which tourists throw into the fountain for luck, have gone to Church relief, development and social service charity Caritas, an arrangement formalised in 2001 by then-mayor Walter Veltroni.

But Raggi, from the populist Five Star Movement, plugged the plug on the deal and tried on various occasions to create a public foundation to manage the funds for various social projects at the Town Hall’s discretion and with the priority of maintaining Rome’s cultural heritage.

Raggi’s withdrawing the Trevi Fountain money from Caritas was a big blow for the charity, as with a stroke of the mayor’s pen the charity lost 15% of its annual income and was forced to cut services for the poor in the Italian capital.

Why it matters

Just before Christmas, Raggi reneged on her plans and promised that the coins would go back to Caritas coffers.

Under a new two-year deal, municipal workers will scoop the coins out of the fountain, the Diocese of Rome will be responsible for cleaning, counting and keeping the cash and the entire amount of the funds will be donated to the charity.

Pope Francis’ March visit to the Roman Town Hall – in which he, among other things, urged the Roman spiritual and temporal powers to “constant dialogue and stable collaboration in mutual respect” – is being credited with Raggi’s about-face over the fountain money.

Next on Novena:

Brains behind Pope’s new 24/7 “field hospital” church in Rome denounces criminalisation of poor

Pope’s dream comes true as 24/7 church for poor opens in Rome

EU Bishops, Caritas Europa denounce a fifth of population on poverty line

Caritas, to EU: “Put words into action” for 112 million people in poverty