Rome in summer is hot hot hot. You’ll 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.
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 watery legacy remains, and you can benefit from it on your vacation. Just bring a water bottle or keep the first bottle you buy, and fill up at will whenever you see a nasone.
It’s super healthy, 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 recent drought conditions have sadly caused a few to be turned off.
Some of the original Roman acqueducts are still in use but they only feed the monumental fountains – which is why you should never drink from them.
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!