It has been 17 months since scaffolding went up at Rome's Trevi fountain, which will be forever associated with the image of Anita Ekberg skipping in its waters during a scene from Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita.

Finally, the baroque site has been restored and the results are beaming from the breast of Oceanus, who stands proudly at the centre of the fountain beneath gold lettering.

With a glance at the darker stone of the square's church, untouched by the revamp, the scale of Trevi's transformation becomes clear. "Now it's brighter, before it was dirty," said Rajinder Singh, a souvenir seller.

With the official reopening set for tomorrow, workers are putting the finishing touches to the fountain. A team of 26 restorers has checked the cracks and steel supports, hoping to avoid any repetition of the incident in 2012 when pieces of the fountain came crashing down.

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For city authorities, a costly restoration project amid a financial crisis was not a priority. But fashion house Fendi stepped in, donating 2.18 million ($3.5 million) for the work. The company also spent 320,000 on the city's Le Quattro Fontane.

It is part of a broader trend sweeping the city. Jeweller Bulgari has donated 1.5 million for the restoration of Rome's Spanish Steps, while the chairman of Tod's shoes, Diego Della Valle, has splashed out 25 million on the Colosseum.

"It's to help companies, citizens, museums, foundations - but above all it has an educational value, because Italy doesn't have a system of crowdfunding," said Italy's culture minister, Dario Franceschini, who has encouraged the donations and who recently created an Art Bonus tax break.

- Observer