Rubbish found in ancient Roman aqueduct near Trevi Fountain highlights Rome's waste collection crisis

Nick Squires
Rubbish was found dumped around the ancient Roman aqueduct that feeds the Trevi Fountain - EPA

It is hardly in keeping with Rome’s image as the city of “la dolce vita”.

The Italian capital’s rubbish crisis reached rock bottom this week with the revelation that industrial waste had been dumped in an ancient Roman aqueduct that feeds water to the city’s celebrated Trevi Fountain.

The Baroque masterpiece, completed in 1762, was where Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni famously cavorted in Federico Fellini’s classic 1960 film La Dolce Vita.

To this day, it is fed by the Acqua Vergine, a Roman aqueduct that is largely hidden beneath the city’s cobbled piazzas and streets.

Considered one of the great engineering achievements of the Roman Empire, the aqueduct was built in the first century BC and brought water to the city from 12 miles away. Along most of its course it ran underground.

Authorities were conducting routine checks when they found a section of the aqueduct clogged with building waste, including bits of plastic, pots of paint, masonry and old chairs.

Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni in the Fellini classic La Dolce Vita Credit: Rex Features

They believe it may have come from the refurbishment of a nearby palazzo. Officials are trying to establish who was responsible for dumping the waste.

Rome has struggled to collect its waste for years, but the rubbish crisis has flared again recently, with skips overflowing and warnings about a rat infestation.

Restaurants often dump black sacks full of food waste in the street at night – by the morning they have been ripped over by rats, pigeons and seagulls.

Doctors have warned of a “health emergency”, pointing to the risk of vermin spreading diseases.

On the outskirts of the city, herds of wild boar rummage through uncollected rubbish.

The city’s rubbish collection company, AMA, has been plagued by accusations of negligence and corruption and earlier this month the entire board resigned over a dispute with Rome’s council.

Virginia Raggi, the mayor of Rome, has come in for intense criticism for failing to tackle the rubbish crisis in her three years in office.