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What Happens to the Coins You Wish Upon?

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Lazio, Italy, Europe

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy || Image from Travel and Leisure

I recently read an article in Travel and Leisure magazine about what happens to the money thrown into fountains. After reading it, I asked my husband to guess how much money is tossed into the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy on a weekly basis. His guess was $5,000. He was shocked when I said, “Guess again…. Higher!” Thousands of people visit the fountain every day. It is customary to make a wish with your back towards the fountain and toss a coin over your left shoulder. My husband was very surprised when I told him the dollar amount: $15,000 or higher per week, depending on the travel season. That is almost $1 million a year!

Every day, the Catholic charity, Caritas, spends an hour sweeping up all the coins in the fountain. In 2008, they opened a low-cost grocery store with the money that was collected. Interestingly, the Trevi Fountain is the only fountain that needs to be cleaned on a daily basis. Other famous fountains may do their coin sweep every few months.

There is a lake at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas that collects about $12,000 a year. There, they use a giant vacuum to remove the coins from the bottom of the lake. Then, the money is placed in a cement mixer with towels to clean the coins. The Bellagio donates the money it collects to nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

I found this interesting, too: the fountain at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, where you are not supposed toss coins into the fountain, collects about $3,400 a year. One of the largest fountains in the world is in Chicago—Buckingham Fountain—it only makes about $200 a year.

So when in Rome, make a wish and help someone in need!

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