The Trevi Fountain, the iconic Roman fountain in which actors Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni cavort in the classic film La Dolce Vita, will undergo a nearly $3-million restoration, paid for by fashion house Fendi.

Designers Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi announced the restoration project alongside Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno at city hall on Monday.

Fendi said the project combined a love of Rome's past with a need to preserve its future, while Lagerfeld noted that Rome's fountains "are there to glorify water, which is the most important thing in life."


Fendi designer Karl Lagerfeld poses in Rome Monday at a press conference announcing the company's financing the restoration of five Roman fountains, including the famed Trevi. (Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press)

The Trevi restoration is expected to last about 20 months, but will be conducted in stages so tourists can continue to visit the landmark. It is estimated to cost €2.18 million (about $2.95 million Cdn). The design giant is also donating funds to restore other Roman fountains, including the Quattro Fontane.

Locals and tourists toss coins into the Trevi Fountain for good luck, success in romance and as a wish to return to Rome again. It is one of the city's most popular fountains, memorialized in the scene from Federico Fellini's acclaimed 1960 film as well as movies like Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn.

Fendi is the latest Italian fashion company to step forward with financial aid for the country's cultural heritage. As part of government austerity measures in recent years, funding for arts, cultural and heritage agencies has been slashed dramatically.

Officials are processing the offer by Diego Della Valle, CEO of Tod's luxury footwear company as well as fashion label Schiaparelli, to pay for a €25 million (nearly $34 million Cdn) restoration of the Colosseum. Rome's most popular landmarks and one of Italy's biggest tourist attractions, the ancient gladiator arena has been plagued by reports that its masonry is crumbling.

Meanwhile, in Venice, consumer fashion company Diesel's founder Renzo Rosso has pledged €5 million (approximately $6.8 million Cdn) to restore the Rialto Bridge, which dates back to the 16th century.

In late 2011, Japanese fashion tycoon Yuzo Yagi, head of Tsusho, donated more than €1 million (about $1.35 million Cdn) to restore the Pyramid of Cestius, a 2,000-year-old ancient building in Rome.

"Without similar initiatives, we won't be able to save the cultural memory of our country," Alemanno said Monday, adding that he hoped these donations would set an example for others.

With files from The Associated Press