Locals Of Italy Cringe When Tourists Make This Money-Wasting Hydration Mistake

A trip to Italy is a dream. It can also be rather expensive. Airfare, hotels or rentals, food, water ... it all adds up quickly. There is, however, a way to save a little bit of pocket money in Italy, and when tourists don't do this, locals tend to cringe. It might not be fair because these vacationers probably don't realize what they're doing wrong, but it's all about hydration. Instead of buying an overpriced bottle of water at a shop, you should, as the locals do, be using one of the plentiful public drinking fountains that dot the country. 


Called "nasone" (plural: "nasoni") or "big nose" fountains (though they are also referred to as fontanella), these are public spots where you can fill up a water bottle or drink right from the spout. There are upwards of 2,500 of them in Rome alone. They may be simple spouts or elaborately decorated with animal heads or mythical creatures, and they're cold, clean, and, most importantly, free. Before visiting Italy, you'll definitely want to know about the nasoni, a little peculiarity of some of them, and how to find them in the first place. 

All about the nasoni of Italy

We're not talking about the big public fountains that are decorative pools with statues in the middle. (Definitely don't fill your water bottle in the waters of the Trevi Fountain, where there are strict rules.) These are drinking fountains like the one pictured above. You can find them all through Rome, as well as inside and outside of walled towns like Montepulciano or Cortona. They could be flush with a wall or freestanding, but wherever you find them, they're a delight. The water comes from the Appenine mountains, with some of the liquid moving along routes that were once the sites of ancient aqueducts, which were first built in 312 B.C. along Rome's Appian Way. 


It can be really hot in Italy, especially if you visit the Mediterranean country in the summer, and these are a lifesaver. Some of them even have a little hole at the top. If you cover the spout, the water shoots out of the hole, as anyone who has watched Julia Roberts try to drink out of one in the movie "Eat Pray Love" knows. While a few may say "non potabile" on them (meaning it's not for drinking), most are the perfect hydration spot. 

Why you should stop at a nasone and how to find one

Buying bottled water in the United States may seem more convenient than looking for a water fountain, but there's really no excuse in Italy, especially considering that the water is free. We in America throw away more than 60 million plastic water bottles in a single day, according to the Container Recycling Institute. What's more, there are more than a million water bottles sold in the world every minute, and that is only looking to increase. If you want an idea of the waste that's causing, a report by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health writes that in 2021, 25 million tons of waste from 600 billion plastic bottles were created worldwide, and "is not recycled but is disposed of in landfills or as unregulated waste."


It's important to stay hydrated, and skipping the plastic bottles and turning toward a nasone is a great way to do that. So how do you find one of these nasoni? You'll likely run into one or see other people using them, especially in high-traffic areas since they tend to be located around major landmarks and monuments. You can also use the nasoni location app Waidy WOW for either Android or iPhone. Just carry a reusable water bottle ("borraccia" in Italian) and fill it up when you see one. We also recommend using a carabiner clip to attach it to a belt loop if that suits your tourism style more.