Fun and interesting facts about the drinking water fountains of Rome, the iconic ‘nasoni’!
Rome has some wonderful monumental fountains, masterpieces of stone and water that attract visitors from all over the world.
The Trevi Fountain alone sees millions of tourists every year and it is easy to see why: some of Rome’s fountains are so beautiful they are true Rome must see.
However, there is a differnt type of fountains in Rome that is dear to locals, useful to visitors are also very pretty: they are the ‘nasoni’ the ‘big noses’ aka Rome’s drining fountains or ‘fontanelle’.
The Nasoni are peculiar to the city of Rome: they offer deightfully fresh drinking water and deliver it in a unique way that makes them unforgettable, especially if you are visiting Rome with kids!
These are some fun facts about them!
Fun facts about nasoni, the drinking water fountains of Rome
Le fontanelle made their first appearance in Rome in 1874, when the Comune (the city administration) built them to distribute clean, drinkable water the capital, for free.
They were, and are, made of cast iron and they pour water from a slim tube that resembles a long nose, hence their name: the big noses (nasomi).
In Rome there are 2500 nasoni (!) and while some of them are now dry, you can still find many functioning ones, with fresh, clean and super refreshing water.
Us Romans are very proud of them and le fontanelle are now at the heart of a project called ‘free to drink’, that campaigns for their survival against the trend that wants us buy water in plastic bottles.
Among other things, the project shared a map of the fontanelle, which I think is cool and that you can find here.
As well as nasoni, in Rome you can also find a different kind on fontanella, usually in parks, made of travertino rather than cast iron.
These fontanelle were called fontanelle della lupa imperiale (of the imperial she-wolf, you’ve got to love this name) and their name comes from the wolf head the water used to come out of.
Now very few of them have the wolf head but the fontanelle are still there and you can drink from them remembering Romulus, Remus and the long story the humble fountain commemorates.
How to drink from Rome’s drinking fountains
Drinking from ‘nasoni’ is easy however, you need to know how to do it!
Start placing yourself to the side of the fountain, then use one hand to stop the flow of water, pushing your palm against the water spout.
The water will be forced up a small hole at the top of the spout (the nose) and will come out in a gentle arch!
You can now gently put your mouth to the water and drink at leisure, without your lips ever touching the iron nor your back getting sore from bending!
Did you enjoy tis fun fact? Find many more fun facts about Rome here!