All roads lead to Rome’s drinking fountains, by Elena Damaschin

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While wandering around Rome, it’s easy to get lost, although this is part of the city’s charm. But after strolling around and seeing a large number of places, you may start wondering where to buy a bottle of water. Happily, the Eternal City is famous not only for its beautiful monuments, art galleries and marvellous fountains, but well-known also for its drinking fountains. In Rome they are called fontanelle or nasoni and are one of the city’s many symbols. These public fountains are both beautiful and practical but are often taken for granted by visitors.

 

Recently I was intrigued by an article in Italian newspaper Il Messaggero regarding the creation of a watermap and free app of all the drinking fountains in Rome. The watermap shows the city’s drinking fountains, archaeological sites, public transport and other points of attraction, so it might be pretty useful for visitors to Rome

 

There are places on earth where there is not a drop of water but in Rome water flows abundantly at public fountains, thanks to work carried out in ancient times. By the first century A.D., the aqueducts were used to carry essential water into the city for citizens to use. Thanks to the aqueducts, the city had access to hundreds of litres of water per person per day. In other words, the city has had a constant water supply for millennia.

 

In modern Rome there are around 2,500 public fountains scattered about the city so you should have no trouble finding them, especially in the city centre. The fontanelle you see today were introduced to Rome in 1872 by the mayor and are licensed by the city of Rome. There are only three fontanelle left today from that period, two of which are in perfect working order. One can be seen in Piazza della Rotonda near Pantheon and the other is located in via delle Tre Cannelle, near piazza Venezia. The third fontanella is located at the foot of Palatino hill in via di San Teodoro, but it has now run dry.

 

These fountains provide a service which is both efficient and freely accessible to everyone, so really, there is no reason to spend a small fortune on environment-unfriendly bottled water. All you need to do is look for a nasone and drink all the fresh water you want. This water tastes good, sometimes even better than bottled water. It is also low in sodium and absolutely safe thanks to almost 250 annual checks. Many do not realise but this is the exact same water that flows from the taps of Rome’s houses.

 

By using water from the nasoni, you will also be helping to keep the environment free from PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) bottles and to respect nature. While touring the Eternal City, do as the Romans do and refill your water bottle at one of the city’s many fountains. If you have trouble finding one, this watermap and free app will no doubt come in handy.

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