Rome & the water: fountains and safe drinking

Rome wouldn’t be the same without its water. In fact, it would be better to say its waters. In fact, there are many springs that provide, every day, hectolitres of pure water to the city.

The Eternal City offers free water to all its visitors and residents. You can safely drink water from the fountains in the streets, as well as in houses, hotels and restaurants. The water network created by the ancient Romans over 2000 years ago still supplies the city, through underground conduits.

acquedotto romano
Roman aqueducts are an example of water engineering that can still be seen in Rome and Europe

Roman aqueducts

We all know the great engineering skills of the ancient Romans and their ability to convey water from great distances. Vestiges of the aerial aqueducts, interrupted in the Middle Ages after the barbarian invasions, are still visible in Rome and around the world. Memories of an engineering past that still amazes today. Roman Buiding technique laid on arches and slopes. Using a few physical and mathematical principles, the ancient Romans connected the flows of the best waters. This is one of the reasons why Rome prospered as one of the safest cities of antiquity from a sanitary point of view.

The Virgin Aqueduct is the only one of the eleven main aqueducts of ancient Rome. It still works today and feeds Trevi Foutain

The water of Rome

If you are traveling to Rome, therefore, you have the opportunity to drink excellent quality tap water, absolutely free. In fact, the thousands of drinking fountains in the area continuously provide pure water. So refill your empty bottle with peace of mind.  guaranteed by a ACEA is the municipal subsidiary company which guarantees for Water safety in Rome. Roman water is rich in minerals and is considered hard water. Above all, it is rich in limestone, which makes life very problematic for those who have to clean the house and for the life of household appliances. When you wash your hair with the waters of Rome you will notice, to explain, that a double dose of conditioner will be necessary. On the other hand, calcium is an excellent supplement for the health of the body.

The nasoni: the fountains of Rome

nasoni di roma fontane
Drinking from the “nasoni” is always safe, but you have to know an ingenious trick

The public drinking fountains, affectionately nicknamed by the Romans: nasoni. This is because of their profile, which would resemble a figure with a pronounced nose. The water flows continuously from these fountains of which there are more than 2000. Where does the flowing water go? It ends up horribly in the sewer system. That is, it goes to the sea, which would still be natural, if there were no areas of the world where water is scarce. This waste of water is stunning. Even more impressive, however, is the fact that more than 50% of the water lost occurs in the pipes before reaching the fountain. Someone said the water pressure is so strong that closing the fountains would cause a problem with the tightness of the pipes. No one knows the truth. The fact is that the citizens of Rome find themselves paying high bills, despite the fact that water is always present and plentiful.

Tap water at the bar and restaurant

Tap water , likewise many other things in Rome, got a nickname. That is the mayor’s water. You can ironically ask for this at the bar if you’re looking for tap water. In some cafes, which have been influenced by the Southern tradition of serving water before coffee, you don’t have to ask for it. It is not a basic rule, if you want water from the bottle you have to specify mineral water. In some places, microfiltered water is served, i.e. tap water purified by a descaling machine. Which is often also able to add effervescence.

The natural effervescent water gushes out of the volcanic springs. It is naturally effervescent without the addition of gas

With gas or effervescente naturale?

If you like effervescent water, however, you can’t miss tasting the one that flows naturally effervescent from the spring. Many of these waters are expensive since very requested, for their taste but also for their digestive capacity. There is also a spring of this kind in Rome. It is the Capannelle, which is located on the Appian Way, towards Ciampino. If you happen to pass by this fountain, you will notice many people queuing up to fill empty bottles and take home excellent water. Assuming that Rome’s tap water is excellent, you might wonder why you have to pay at the restaurant. There is a European law that assimilates the behaviour of restaurateurs. Since the water is not safe in other countries, then everyone must observe the same rule. As a result, even if you ask for tap water at the restaurant, it will be either microfiltered or bottled.

the fountain in Piazza Mattei at the Jewish Ghetto is called the Fountain of the Turtles

The water of the fountains of Rome

Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning film The Great Beauty opens with a breathtaking flight over the Paola fountain (Fontana Paola). One of the fountains in Rome that enjoys the best possible view: the view of the city from the Janiculum Hill. Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita has the wonderful Trevi Fountain as the backdrop for one of the most iconic scenes. Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers in the center of Piazza Navona appears in scenes from numerous films such as Angels and Demons.  In the same square we also find the Triton fountain, of extraordinary beauty. The fountain called Barcaccia, in Piazza di Spagna, the work of Bernini father and son together, is one of the few from which you can also drink. In Piazza Farnese, there are two fountains, particular because they were obtained from two basins of the imperial age from the Baths of Caracalla.

The Trevi Fountain is the most iconic fountain in the world. Flip one coin to get back to Rome, two to get married, three to divorce 🙂

Some fountains bear unique stories

In Piazza della Repubblica, there is a large fountain: fountain of the Naiads. At the opening caused a great scandal for the nudity and allusive attitude of the figures. In Piazza del Popolo we find a fountain decorated with lions. In Vila Borghese, on the other hand, there is a special fountain that moves the mechanism of a water clock. The fountain of Campo de Fiori, by the prestigious Giacomo della Porta, is now located in Piazza della Chiesa Nuova. To prevent the people from using it to wash vegetables, the Pope wanted to cover it with a lid, which earned it, as always happens in Rome, a nickname. The terrine left the square to leave space to Giordano Bruno’s monument. The turtle fountain in Piazza Mattei, initially for the inhabitants of the Jewish Ghetto, was arbitrarily moved outside the enclave. In St. Peter’s Square you can admire two majestic twin fountains. Created in different times and by different authors: Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

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