Nasoni of Rome

Artist: Unknown

Dates: 1872

Dimensions: varies between each one

Location: Rome, Italy

Medium: Iron

The city of Rome is known around the world for its beautiful fountains and its constant supply of fresh, clean, running water. You simply cannot walk around the city without seeing some sort of water cascade from something grand, such as the Trevi fountain, or  from small drinking fountains that pepper the streets. The Roman water system is the foundation of many modern day aqueduct systems. These aqueducts have provided Rome with fresh water from 98 A.D. Rome’s name is “Curator Aquarium” which means “City of the Water.”  This is because of the massive amount of water that is provided throughout the city daily. Italy is one of the few countries that supplies their citizens with fresh filtered water right from the sink.

In the city, there are many drinking spouts called “Nasoni.” After spending a few minutes in the city, you will begin to see them everywhere. Nasoni, which translates as “big noses,” are spread all over the city of Rome. This three foot and 200 pound round iron structure has a long, bent spout the resembles the Italian “big nose” stereotype. Most of them are cylinders, but recently square or rectangular fountains have made an appearance. The engineering behind these drinking fountains is brilliant. Each one has a big spout that allows a lot of water to flow freely and quickly, inviting people to fill up their water bottles or glasses. It also has a small whole at the top that is designed for drinking without a bottle or cup. It is simple: one merely has to plug the bottom of the big spout and out comes a water arch that is perfect for taking a drink. Initially, there were only twenty Nasoni throughout Rome, but as the city expanded so did the amount of drinking fountains. Now, there are more than 2,500 of these Nasoni. The running water comes from the Peschiera reservoir. This water runs through over seventy miles of channels all over the city of Rome. It is truly an innovative system, because even in the stifling heat of the summer the water still comes out cold. This is due to the fact that the water is stored underground, which helps the liquid maintain its low temperature. The Nasoni run 365 days a year and twenty-four hours a day. There is no water that goes to waste, because they recycle the water to irrigate gardens, to supply for industrial cleanings, and to flush out the sewer systems. The Nasoni that are seen today in Rome were installed in 1872. Most Nasoni are made of cast iron and are licensed through the city of Rome. Many of the locals call it “l’acqua del sindaco” or in other words, “the mayor’s water.” Each Nasoni is marked with S.P.Q.R, which stand for the Latin phrase “Senatus Populus Que Republic.” This is the official signature of the government. The letters S.P.Q.R. are on many important government buildings throughout Rome. The fact that the Roman government provides everybody, from poor to rich, with fresh clean water is a remarkable feat. After over 130 years of existence these drinking fountains are still a part of everyday Roman life for locals and tourists.

Work Cited


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