A nasone from the 1930s
A nasone from the 1930s
LocationAnnia Faustina 38, Rome, Italy

A nasone (plural nasoni), also called a fontanella (plural fontanelle, lit. "little fountains"), is a type of drinking fountain found in Rome, Italy. Literally meaning "large nose", they got their name from their characteristic design first introduced in the 1870s. There are approximately 2,500–2,800 nasoni in Rome, supplying people with free drinking water.


Schematics of a typical nasone.

Most nasoni share a design in the shape of a column. The form of the water spout varies but most nasoni have a metal spout protruding at mid-height which looks like a nose and gives the fountains their name "large noses".[1][2] Other designs include wolf-heads, dragons and lions.[3] Most are made of simple stone, although in the 1920s and 1930s nasoni were made of travertine marble, some of which remain today, mostly in parks and the Foro Italico area.[3]

The water coming from the nasoni is the same supplied to the city's households and thus safe for drinking. It is continuously running from the fountain through a hole at the bottom of the spout. [4] Additionally, most nasoni have a hole located at the top of the spout, allowing thirsty people to drink from the fountain more easily by blocking the bottom hole and forcing the water upwards.[3]


Léon Bonnat, Roman Girl drinking at a Fountain (1875)

The city of Rome began installing nasoni in the 1870s to provide a water supply for citizens. The exact year is not known: sources note both 1872[5] and 1874[6] as the first time a nasone was installed. The fountains' design went unchanged for decades. At the peak of their popularity, there were approximately 5,000 nasoni in Rome.[5] While their number has dwindled as domestic water connections have become commonplace, there are still between 2,500 and 2,800 nasoni in greater Rome today, one tenth of them in the historical center.[7]

Acea, the company responsible for maintaining the city's water supply, installed ten casa dell'acqua (lit. "house of the water") kiosks in 2015. Described as "hi-tech nasoni", these provide free tap and sparkling water as well as information for tourists and a place to recharge mobile devices.[8]


Aside from the social-welfare benefits of supplying drinkable water to citizens (especially those without their own access), nasoni serve as needed ventilation valves for the Roman water-supply system.[6] In addition, constantly flowing water keeps the water in the pipes from stagnating, which might otherwise allow bacteria to proliferate. While this has been criticized by some as a waste of drinking water, only 1% of the water is lost because of the nasoni running continuously, compared to nearly 50% of water lost due to old and leaky pipes.[6] According to estimates, operating a nasone costs the city of Rome approximately 3–5 Euro per day, depending on the strength of the water flow.[7]


In July 2017, Acea began to shut off some nasoni because drought had diminished the nearby Lake Bracciano, the city's main water reserve.[9][10] The move was criticized by many,[by whom?] citing concerns that the decision will be hurtful to Rome's homeless population and local animals, both of which rely on fresh water from these fountains.[7]


See also


  1. ^ "As Drought Parches Italy, Rome Turns Off Historic Drinking Fountains". KALW. 2017-07-10. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  2. ^ Di Somma, Andrea; Ferrari, Valentina; Miranda, Michaelangelo; Pechar, Saverio Werther; Zonetti, Fabio. "Scenari neogeografici per i 'nasoni' della periferia romana" (PDF). Asita 2014 (in Italian).
  3. ^ a b c Bennett, Dianne; Graebner, William (2009). Rome the Second Time: 15 Itineraries That Don't Go to the Coliseum. Curious Traveler Press. pp. 116–117. ISBN 9780615279985.
  4. ^ "The Nasoni: Rome's Ubiquitous Public Fountains". Life In Italy. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  5. ^ a b Angelakis, Andreas N.; Mays, Larry W.; Koutsoyiannis, Demetris; Mamassis, Nikos (2012). Evolution of Water Supply Through the Millennia. IWA Publishing. p. 460. ISBN 9781843395409.
  6. ^ a b c Mauro, Fabrizio Di (2009). I nasoni di Roma: e le altre fontanelle (in Italian). Editrice Innocenti. p. 9. ISBN 9788889818657.
  7. ^ a b c Lyman, Eric J. (2017-07-14). "News Analysis: Rome faces criticism as trying to save water by closing "big nose" fountains". Xinhua. Archived from the original on August 8, 2017. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  8. ^ "Rome installs hi-tech free water dispensers". Wanted in Rome. 2015-09-11. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  9. ^ "Drought threatens Rome's eternal drinking fountains". Daily Sabah. 2017-07-07. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  10. ^ Ulrich, Stefan (2017-08-03). "Rom geht das Wasser aus – wegen undichter Leitungen". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 2017-08-04.

Media related to Nasoni (Rome) at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Fontana del Moro
Landmarks of Rome
Succeeded by
Fontana della Navicella, Rome