Roman Water (Acqua Romana )

acquadiroma Why don’t you put aside those plastic bottles? It’s a sacrilege to buy mineral water in Rome! Here there is free, pure, tasty water always within reach. If you just look around you?ll certainly see at least one of the 2000 nasoni, the typical roman drinking fountains, which are made of no fewer than a hundred kilos of cast iron.
acquadiroma_nasoneRome is indeed the only city in the world to have planned a network of fountains especially for quenching its citizens? thirst! Many of these fontanelle (small fountains) were put in the city’s center and near S. Peter’s Basilica, to meet the needs of the many pilgrims who have visited Rome over the centuries. The water accompanied them continuously as they made their journey across the city to meet the Pope.
Whatever street you walk in, if you ask about a fontanella you’ll be shown at least a couple of them, because whoever lives in Rome knows exactly where the drinking fountains are located in his district. Just try and see!
You could even happen to see people around equipped with bottles or other containers, since they prefer to go and fill-up at the fountain, rather than drinking from water-tanks at home or buying water from a shop. It?s better to tote your own bottles than to waste money buying mineral water!
Nevertheless today?s Romans scarcely know that the water gushing out of the nasoni comes from several different sources far from the city. Most are ignorant of the fact that sometimes it’s an ancient Roman acqueduct that brings the water into the city.
The different water courses are conveyed in the centre of Rome, where some beautiful fountains ( mostre ) have been built to show the water that has ended its journey after a long underground course.

Do you know, for instance, that Fontana di Trevi is the mostra of the Virgin Water? It spurts from most of the city centre’s fountains, such as the Barcaccia in Piazza di Spagna and the Rivers? fountain in piazza Navona. The aqueduct is still working after twenty centuries!
This kind of water comes from the spring of Solone, 19 kilometres outside Rome while the aqueduct where this water flows was built in 19 b.C. by Agrippa, Augustus’ general. Legend has it that it was a young and pure girl who showed the roman troops the abundant spring. That’s why the water was called Acqua Vergine (Virgin water). This legend is also illustrated in the upper panels of Fontana di Trevi. Just take a look!


Barcaccia Fountain, Trinità dei Monti Staircase side (Piazza di Spagna, Rome). By Pietro Bernini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini 1629

Concerning the famous Barcaccia (the derogative form of barca, boat) it is worth mentioning Bernini’s technical expedient to highlight the scarce water pressure in that point: since the fountain was to have been built slightly below the ground level to allow the water to spurt, Bernini’s ingenious idea was to represent a sinking boat, very low and almost covered by water.


Old printing. Originally the fontanone had 5 basins in correspondence of the arches.

The water springing out from Fontanone, the famous fountain up the Gianicolo hill, (Paola water’s mostra) is actually supplied by Paolo’s aqueduct, which is 32 kilometres long and gets the water from a spring near Bracciano lake. The aqueduct was built in the 2nd century A.D. but it was cut after the barbarian invasion. It remained inactive until Pope Paolo V restored it in the 17th century. Tradition says that when the new fountain was inaugurated by the Pope, the spurt was so powerful that it broke the marble balcony and the water fell down the hill.


The Acqua Acetosa fountain is located in the flat area of the same name, in the Parioli district in Rome.

If you are a sportsman/woman and attend the sports facilities located in Acqua Acetosa, on the right-hand side of the river between via Flaminia and via Salaria, you should know that there?s a beautiful fountain within easy reach, where you can drink and have a rest.
The fountain was built in the 17th century by Pope Paolo V, who praised the therapeutic properties of its water. Tradition said that Acqua Acetosa ( fizzy water ) had some curative powers: it was good for the kidneys, stomach and liver. As a matter of fact a new profession was born from here: the ?acquarolo?, that is to say ‘the man who sells water’. He used to load his cart with flasks and then moved towards the city centre, shouting from the top of his voice that his water had many curative virtues. Unfortunately this fountain is almost abandoned at present: weeds have grown on the top, between the marble slabs, and cars run close without even noticing it.

I need some fresh water, now, since I?m boiling! I think I’ll go to Borgo Pio: I have been told there’s a nice fountain there, with fresh water coming from north?

Fontanella Acqua Marcia, Borgo Pio, Roma


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