Rome authorities and Catholic church in unholy row over coins in Trevi Fountain

It is an essential tradition for millions of tourists. But few will have suspected their loose change would also spark a bitter row between Rome’s secular authorities and the Catholic Church.

Traditionally, the €1.5 million (£1.3 million) of coins scooped out of the stunning Baroque fountain each year are actually destined for the Catholic charity, Caritas, to help the city’s poor and homeless.

Now Rome’s Mayor, Virginia Raggi, says the €4,000 (£3,600) worth of coins tossed into the fountain every day belong to her administration.