Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Bad news for skinny dippers

photo © Clyde Bergstresser
ROME (Reuters) - Water supplying Rome's world-famous Trevi Fountain was cut off when a builder across town damaged a 2,000-year-old pipe, ACEA, the local water company, said on Wednesday.

Water had been flowing into central Rome through the "aqueduct of the virgin" since 19 BC, but it mysteriously dried up earlier this month, cutting supplies to several fountains, including the Baroque masterpiece Trevi.

A search using a waterborne video camera through the ancient pipe tracked the blockage to a house in the high-end Parioli neighbourhood on the other side of the Villa Borghese park, where builders were making a private underground car park.

Tourists at Trevi did not notice the damage, as the fountain was on recycle mode rather than drawing water direct from the pipe, but many smaller Rome fountains spluttered to a halt and the Trevi Fountain itself will soon need to have its water replaced.

While ACEA works on repairing the pipe -- and seeks damages against the builder -- it will divert water from another, younger pipe, the "aqueduct of Paul" which has been bringing water to Rome from a lake north of the city only since 2 AD.