Rome in summer is hot hot hot. You’ll often find yourself in desperate need of water, but the next time you step into a store to buy a chilled plastic bottle, stop. Rome is absolutely full of ‘nasoni’ (‘big noses’) that distribute clean, clear, cool water for free, 24/7.
It’s the legacy of the magnanimity of the ancient emperors, who channeled millions of gallons a day into the city to keep more than a million residents watered, and distributed it for free to the plebeians along with bread, oil, and circuses.
The first aqueduct was built along the Appian Way in 312BC, and by the 1st century AD there were nine serving the city. One entire aqueduct was built solely for the fountains and baths of the palace on the Palatine Hill.
More than two thousand years later, the liquid legacy remains, and you can benefit from it on your vacation. Just buy or bring a reusable water bottle (in Italian, a borraccia) or keep the first bottle you buy, and fill up at will whenever you see a nasone, also called a fontanella.
It’s super healthy, fresh, clean, cold, treated water originating in the Appenine mountains, sometimes brought along the route of the original Roman aqueducts, and it’s always running so never has time to build up any kind of growth in the pipes that feed the fountains, though sometimes summer drought conditions cause a few to be turned off.
Some of the original Roman aqueducts are still in use – you can visit them and still hear the water running through one of them at the stunning Parco degli Acquedotti – but these days they only feed the monumental fountains – which is another reason you should never drink from those!
There’s even an app for it: Waidy, available for Android or iPhone, helps you locate your nearest of the city’s 2,500 “big noses”.
Always refreshing to get something for nothing!