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The Nasoni, the fountains of Rome

Nasone in via delle tre cannelle

When the heat in the city becomes oppressive, nothing is more pleasant than a sip of freshwater.

In Rome, you can quench your thirst with the water that flows from the fountains with the characteristic cylindrical shape. Romans affectionately call them "nasoni," (big nose) and you can find them in many squares and streets of the city. 

They were born in 1874 from the idea of then-Mayor Luigi Pianciani and councilor Rinazzi to provide free drinking water in the center and the townships and give vent to the water network. The fountains, made of cast iron, were about 120 cm high, weighed about 100 kilos, and had three dragon-shaped nozzles. The water ended its fall in the sewer through a grate placed at street level.

In the following years, the design of the fountains changed: a single smooth spout whose shape is the origin of the name "nasone" replaced the three decorated nozzles. You can still find some dragon-shaped ones in Piazza della Rotonda, Via di San Teodoro, behind the Roman Forum, and Via delle Tre Cannelle.

In addition to the cast iron fountains, you can find some travertine fountains around the city; they are those of "della Lupa imperiale" (of the Imperial She-wolf) since the water comes out from a brass she-wolf's head. They date back to the 20s and 30s. About seventy are still working in the Roman parks and the Olympic Village.

The nozzle of all the fountains has a small hole in the upper part. If you plug the main outlet, water gushes upwards, which is a small trick that makes drinking more comfortable and hygienic.

Today, the Roman "nasoni" are almost 2500, and the water they provide is very fresh due to the continuous flow. It is the same water Acea has been distributing in the homes of Romans for over 100 years.

In the historic center are over 200 nasoni and about ninety fountains and artistic fountains from which drinking water always flows. Among the best known, we mention the Fountain of the Barcaccia by Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini in Piazza di Spagna and the fountain embedded in the wall in Via della Fontanella di Borghese.

Thanks to the Waidy Wow App, by selecting "Rome," you can readily locate these characteristic fountains to find refreshments between a cultural visit and a pleasant shopping session.

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