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The city of Rome has admitted defeat in a long battle with a disabled man who is believed to make £100,000 a year collecting coins from the Trevi fountain.

Date: Sun, 28 Jul 2002 23:00:00 -0500
From: bruce lanier wright (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: =?iso-8859-1?Q?=A3100?= ,000 a year from the Trevi fountain

http://www.dailytelegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/07/29/wcoin29.xml&sSheet=/news/2002/07/29/ixworld.html&secureRefresh=true&_requestid=237291

Invalid wins over free coins in fountain By Bruce Johnston in Rome (Filed: 29/07/2002)

The city of Rome has admitted defeat in a long battle with a disabled man who is believed to make £100,000 a year collecting coins from the Trevi fountain.

Although Roberto Cercelletta is fined 516 euros (£325) every day for wading into the 270-year-old fountain at dawn, he never pays the fines.

A police spokesman said: “Officially, he is unemployed. His case has been assigned to a social worker and he has a disability certificate. He is untouchable.”

The nature of Cercelletta’s disability is not clear but invalido certificates are sometimes awarded on flimsy grounds.

Cercelletta has been collecting the coins for 20 years. The Supreme Court has ruled that money thrown into fountains is no one’s property and so is anyone’s to take.

Described as a huge man with a bellowing voice, Cercelletta works with two assistants and always carries a knife. Whenever his lucrative trade is threatened, he cuts himself with it, creating an embarrassing scene. The ploy always works.

The only good news for Caritas, the charity which is supposed to receive the Trevi money, is that on Sundays Cercelletta takes the day off, allowing it to collect the coins one day in seven.

Legend has it that if a visitor to Rome throws a coin into the Trevi fountain over his shoulder, his return will be guaranteed.

The monument’s fame was cemented by the film Three Coins in the Fountain, and Cercelletta has now become a legend in his own right, often posing for photographs in front of the fountain.

Police say the only way to stop him would be to catch him damaging the fountain, something he never does.

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