Rome unveiled the most drastic face-lift for the Trevi Fountain in its 252-year history on Monday, the latest in a series of privately funded restorations to Italy's prized landmarks.

The stone rendering of Tritons guiding the shell chariot of water god Oceanus will be cleaned and new pumps, artistic lighting and barriers to deter pigeons will be installed in the €2.2 million ($3 million) project over the next 16 months.

Water has stopped flowing at the fountain site, which marks the end of an aqueduct said to have carried "virgin water" to thirsty ancient Romans, to allow the work sponsored by Italian fashion house Fendi to go ahead.