The Italian Almanac

love locks

Love Locks at the Trevi Fountain

A recent youth craze for swearing undying love by writing names on padlocks and throwing the key from a bridge into the Tiber has crossed the Italian capital and reached the Trevi Fountain. So-called 'love locks' began to appear on the rails of a church facing the famous monument on Wednesday, bearing vows in Italian, English and Spanish. ''Conti4Ferris'', ''Stev4Sel'' and, from Spain, BertaYRiki were some of the SMS-style writing seen on the locks, whose keys nestled at the bottom of the fountain along with its traditional haul of coins.

The spread of the locks comes after Rome officials last year pronounced the bridge where the phenomenon first started off-limits. The bridge turned to the Web for renewed life when the lamp post bearing the bulk of the locks almost collapsed. But Rome's young romantics appear to prefer a real place. So far only about a dozen locks have been snapped onto the railings in front of the church dedicated to Saints Vincent and Anastasius. ''We're expecting more,'' said a priest who has already asked for them to be removed.

The Milvian Bridge lamppost started bristling with locks in the wake of a successful 2003 romantic book and film, Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo (Three Metres Above The Sky). Imitating the protagonists, young Romans started writing their names on locks, chaining them round the lamp post and throwing the keys into the Tiber. The craze caught on, and soon people were coming from all over the world, either to immortalise the bridge or their own love vows.

The trend dated back to a similar mountain of love locks on Florence's historic Ponte Vecchio, which was controversially removed by order of the mayor last year.