The Fountains of Rome

(Last Updated On: February 3, 2016)

Rome always makes me think of water. The aqueducts, feats of engineering marvel, brought water from the mountain to the ancient city long before most of the world had even imagined plumbing. And, they’re still standing (and in many cases, working) after thousands of years. There are the famous fountains: Trevi and the fountains in Piazza Navona to name a few. They are spectacular, and they draw the crowds to prove it.

Fontana Della Barcaccia
Fontana della Barcaccia – and the crowds
Fontana Dei Quattro Fuimi
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi on Piazza Navona

But the fountains I like most are the everyday fountains in every square, in every corner, throughout the city. The humble drinking fountains, that are always running and have been delivering crystal clear cold drinking water to Romans since 1874. The 2,500 drinking fountains that are scattered throughout Rome have become a point of pride and a symbol of the city.

Nosani in front of Circus Maximus
Nosani in front of Circus Maximus

As we travel to so many places in the world, we constantly have to think about drinking water: Is it safe to drink? Is it ok to cook with, but not to drink? What about coffee — do I need to use bottled water for that? Do I need to pick up a big bottle before heading home? How do I order one of those big bottles of purified water delivered, when I don’t know the language? And then, we get to Rome.

Romans pride themselves on their ability to consistently deliver clean drinking water. This is a tribute to the ancient Roman architects who created the first aqueducts to bring water to the city. The Romans call the fountains”Nasoni” which in Italian, means “Noses”, making fun of the protruding running faucets. Most of these public “noses” have actually run so consistently that there is a pool of erosion below the ever spouting water, through the metal or rock on which they sit.

In today’s world of bottled water, most people will look at you in horror if you suggest drinking from a public water fountain. In Rome, though, it’s the norm — and the water is really good. In fact, most residents of Rome will tell you not to waste 2 Euros on bottles of water, when the water from the nose is free, and just as pure.

Dog and Fountain
Even the four legged Romans use the fountains

If we’ve sold you on the public fountains, first some advice. Before you tilt your head upside down and take a drink, watch how the locals do it. Each “nose” has a small hole on the top, and they will use a finger to block the downward flow of water. Viola! Water streams upward from the hole and there’s no need to be contortionists to get a drink. You can also make a fun game of squirting unsuspecting by-passers using this technique.

Nose Demonstration
How to drink from the Nose

So, our advice: When in Rome, drink from the nose!

Inspired? Pin it for later:Roman Drinking Fountain



Trevi Fountain image courtesy of averain

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15 thoughts on “The Fountains of Rome”

  1. Since 1874? Not bad Sean. What shots too! I’d love to be somewhere like Rome where water can be consumed from public spots without worrying about running to the restroom to do more than rest, 30 minutes later LOL….yes I am living in Bali these days. Just picked up a huge jug of water, all bottled here. Not a bad deal though because an office-sized HUGE water jug costs me about 35 cents, USD. Not kidding. Local village in Bali; we avoid Booly prices hahaha….fun share Sean!


  2. Drinking water in Rome was one of the many pleasant surprises for me–who would have thought the water would be so clean and great-tasting? I love the many fountains we saw there. And I hope to go back someday and see the ones I missed. Thanks for a great post!

  3. Just got back from Rome last week, and the fountains were everywhere! We stayed pretty close to Piazza Navona, so we were there almost every day. And then I finally did try drinking from a fountain inside the Vatican. The water was beautifully cold and I ended up drenching myself in it. I tried to look at locals doing it right, but not too easy to find locals inside the Vatican, so pretty much everyone was in the same boat as I.

  4. Lovely, I enjoyed your post. I can’t wait to see the Trevi fountains unveiled again after all the restoration, do you know when that will be?

  5. I loved the fountains in Rome. Unfortunately I did not take so many wonderful photos. Guess I just need to head back to do it again! Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Beautiful pictures. I was in Rome seven years ago and I loved walking around the streets and exploring the fountains. Love all the different angles you got, takes me back to my trip!


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