The history of the street fountains in Rome is as old as that of the world. They are called Nasoni and you will find over 2,500 dotted around the city, with the first one ever being installed in 1874. Nasoni translated means â€œbig noseâ€ and each one is marked with the traditional Roman S.P.Q.R which stands for Senatus Populus Que Romanus (“the Senate and the People of Rome”). S.P.Q.R. is the Nasoni near trevi fountain and appears almost everywhere throughout the city (coat arms, manhole covers, civic buildings, etc.) . The nasoni are round and stout, made of cast iron, and stand about 3 feet tall and produce chilled, fresh water.
There are more of these Nasoni near trevi fountain than in any other city worldwide. But for a first time visitor to Rome, you will more than likely just walk past them without realising they exist. Contrary to many, the nasoni do provide you with clean, great tasting ice cold drinking water â€“ in fact it is the same water you get in the roman households. The water for the nasoni comes from a huge reservoir in Peschiera, which runs through channels approximately 70 miles long before emerging from the spout of a street fountain.
Of course you can buy bottled water for â‚¬2 if you feel safer, or you could just keep filling one bottle up FOR FREE … itâ€™s your choice!
Initially, only 20 street fountain were installed in the city and you will find some of these originals in the historic Trastevere neighborhood. As Rome expanded throughout the 20th century, more Nasoniâ€™s were placed in the newer districts, especially around outdoor markets, piazzas and squares. You will find around 280 Nasonis within the city walls. Even after 130 years since they first appeared, these fontanelles are still very much a part of the daily life in Rome.
Concerns over the high consumption of drinking water (as the fountains run continuously) have led to some taps being installed on a trial basis some years ago. Unfortunately they were victims of vandalism, which resulted in them being made redundant. However, the flow of water has another 2 useful purposes, which may not be so obvious at first, rather than uselessly seep into the ground:
- Â it keeps the water circulated and so prevents the formation of foul odorsÂ that occure from stagnant water and
- it serves the urban fauna (dogs, cats, birds) as an important source of drinking water. Any additional unused water is then reused for the irrigation of the green areas.