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Nasoni: Rome's Historic Water Fountains

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Discover Rome’s Nasoni: Fresh, Free Drinking Water from the Eternal City’s Fountains

No need to buy bottled water in Rome—quench your thirst with the fantastic fountains, known locally as nasoni, which continuously pump fresh, clean water across the city. Watch Valeria and Benedetta as they reveal all about this uniquely Roman way to stay hydrated in the Eternal City.

Why Rome is Called ‘La Regina dell’Acqua’

Rome earned its nickname ‘La Regina dell’Acqua’ (the Queen of Water) not only because of its position on the banks of the Tiber but also for the thousands of fountains that grace the city, creating a soothing soundtrack of trickling water. Alongside grand, ornamental fountains like the Trevi Fountain and Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain, the city is dotted with smaller fountains that have provided drinking water to Romans and visitors for 150 years.

What Are Nasoni?

Though officially named fontanelle (little fountains), Romans typically call them nasoni, meaning ‘big nose’ in Italian, a nod to the curved shape of the spout. There are around 2,500 nasoni in total, with the oldest dating back to the 1870s. The water from these fountains is the same as that in Roman households, subject to over 250,000 checks a year by the local water company. They offer refreshing hydration as you explore the city, reduce plastic bottle use, and save you money. The constant stream of water helps to release pressure in the pipes, preventing bursts, and keeps the water from stagnating and forming bacteria.

History and Design of Nasoni

The original 1874 design featured a central pillar with two or three water spouts. While most have been replaced, a few remain, such as the one in Piazza della Rotonda in front of the Pantheon. The more common design from the 1920s is a squat, cast iron cylinder weighing over 100kg with a single spout. Occasionally, you might find unique styles featuring marble decorations, reused ancient artifacts, or metal water spouts shaped like lions, dragons, or the she-wolf (the symbol of Rome).

How to Drink from a Nasone

When drinking from a nasone, follow the local etiquette. Either bring a bottle to refill or drink directly from the fountain. Cupping your hands or sticking your head under the tap will mark you as a tourist. Instead, use the local technique demonstrated by Benedetta in the video above.

Nasoni are an integral part of Roman daily life and a lifesaver during sweltering summer days. If you can’t find a nasone nearby, download the free app ‘I Nasoni di Roma,’ which shows all the nasoni on a handy map, ensuring you never go thirsty in Rome!

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