Nasoni, Rome’s unique drinking fountains

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.

©EleonoraBaldwin

©EleonoraBaldwin

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.

©EleonoraBaldwin

©EleonoraBaldwin

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!

10 responses to this post.

  1. […] if covered, allows you to drink water-fountain style. I discovered that trick by reading about it online and was excited to tell my girls about it; when I did they laughed- of course they’d already […]

    Reply

  2. […] take a plastic bottle with you and fill it up. Here’s a map of nasone around the city. And an article about their […]

    Reply

  3. […] Set on not spending too much time standing in long lines, we discovered Rome mostly on foot. From our hotel near the train station, we took the metro to Circo Massimo and crossed the Tiber towards Trastevere. We had heard that Trastevere is known for being a little off the beaten path, and it really was a good place to simply wander around and slowly get acquainted with the city atmosphere. Our lunch at Alle Fratte di Trastevere (lasagna, pizza, and vino – mmmm) was also the perfect kick-off to our Italian culinary adventures. The rest of the day consisted of sipping coffee at the local bars, enjoying more delicious pasta, window shopping, and crowd-gazing. Not wanting to completely miss out on learning some fascinating Roman facts and history, we also joined the New Rome Free Tour in the evening, which led us through the narrow streets and abundant piazza from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain. My favorite discovery: the nasone […]

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  4. […] hill climbing we were going to have to endure to get there, so we were grateful for the city wide drinking fountains that provide free, clean, and COLD […]

    Reply

  5. […] too revealing. Yes, your hostel was piping hot. But, behold the water you gushed out through your 2,500 public drinking fountains! It was pure bliss! Mountain fresh water that was available around every […]

    Reply

  6. […] Rome. Big fountains, little fountains, and the adorable fountains for drinking water (called nasoni, which means “big nose” because of the spout) surprise me at every turn. My favorite, of […]

    Reply

  7. Posted by Liz on October 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Stone-carved drinking fountain in, I think, Rome, in the form of two books either side of a deer’s head over a small basin – four spouts. Does anyone know its location?

    Reply

  8. I could taste them now~~

    Reply

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