Few things come free in Rome but tourists and locals can always count on ice-cold drinking water from the 2,500 drinking fountains scattered about the city. So if you are dying for a chug of cold water, there’s no need to spend a small fortune on environment un-friendly bottled water. All you need to do is look for a nasone and drink all the fresh water you want–it’s free!
Nasoni are Rome’s free drinking fountains, and they are virtually everywhere. First installed in 1874, they are a symbol of the city.
The stout 3-foot and 200-pound cylindrical cast iron structure ows its name to its long, bent spout that resembles a nose (nasone in Italian means “big nose”), from which ice-cold drinkable spring water flows.
The spout is an engineering masterpiece. A small hole at the top and the water’s strong pressure allow for practical drinking. Plugging the main spout with the palm of your hand causes the water to pour upwards out of this hole in a perfect drinking arch. Kids love to drink from nasoni, because they participate in the spectacular acrobatics and get irreparably wet and giggly.
Each nasone is marked with the traditional Roman S.P.Q.R. The initials stand for the Latin phrase, Senatus PopulusQue Romanus (“The Senate and the People of Rome”), referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, and used as an official signature of the government. S.P.Q.R. is the motto of the city of Rome and appears in the city’s coat of arms, as well as on many of the city’s civic buildings, manhole covers, and municipal establishments. The water that flows abundantly from the nasoni is licensed by the city of Rome. That’s why Romans call it l’acqua del sindaco, the mayor’s water.
Initially, only 20 nasoni were placed in and around the city center, and some of these originals can still be found in the historic Trastevere neighborhood. As Rome expanded throughout the 20th century, nasoni were also positioned in the newer districts. Most were placed along outdoor markets in the proximity of fish and flower vendors, and in main piazzas and squares. There are currently 2,500 nasoni in the metropolitan Rome area, 280 of which inside the old walled city. After more than 130 years since their first appearance, these fontanelle (drinking fountains) are still part of Roman daily life and are celebrated by locals and tourists alike for their public utility and their charm.
Find the nearest Nasone to you click here!