In the Italian capital there are more than 2,000 sources known as “nose” because of the shape of the canal from which water never stops flowing
Public fountains with fresh water and curious decorations are found in many cities around the world, but the more than 2,000 scattered around Rome have a particularity that fills them with symbolism: they do not have a tap and the water does not stop going out to quench the thirst of neighbors and tourists.
The Romans affectionately know them as “nasone”, which could be translated as “nose”, a term that tries to describe the peculiar shape of these sources: a cylindrical base just over a meter in height and a huge arched duct in the center from which the water flows directly and reminiscent of a nose.
Its origin dates back to the years after the unification of Italy, when between 1872 and 1874 the then mayor of Rome, Luigi Pianciani, decided to install a network of public fountains to guarantee “water to anyone who needs it,” he points out. Efe Paolo Carsetti, secretary of the Italian Forum Association of the Movements for Water.
However, what is most surprising about the “nasone” is that they do not have a tap and, therefore, the water comes out constantly and every day of the year, something that draws the attention of the newcomers to Rome but to what they are already very accustomed its citizens.
“It is evident that symbolically and in the eyes of all is seen as negative, because it is losing water,” says Carsetti, who says that “it would be very simple to install a tap with an investment of a few thousand euros” to open and close the step of the water in each moment.
A «nasone» in Rome
A «nasone» in Rome- EFE / Carla Riverola
No one knows exactly the reason for this anomaly but there are some hypotheses that could explain it.
The first says that the continuous circulation of water helps to reduce the pressure on the aqueduct of Rome, which is the one that distributes it throughout the city.
Another theory points to a question of “hygiene”. According to the defenders of this explanation, the constant water flow contributes to the dissolution of the wastewater to facilitate the purification process.
The last one is why Carsetti bets, which marks out the previous two as “urban legends”. There are no faucets simply because of vandalism. Some years ago some were installed, but all were stolen or broken and “obviously the operation was not repeated”, he laments.
In any case, and despite the fact that seeing water continuously coming from one source may hurt in the eyes of those more aware of the environment, the waste is “very low”. “The amount of water that is lost from the sources is very low with respect to all that arrives in Rome. It represents less than 1%, “explains this expert in water management.
Surely that’s why the measure taken by the City Council to close almost all the “nasone” in 2017, when the drought was raging in Italy, was so controversial.
A very controversial decision that sparked protests from those who considered that was not the solution, such as the Italian Forum association of the Movements for Water, because many people were harmed, “especially the homeless, for whom the ‘nasone’ ‘they are a source of hygiene and the only way to satisfy themselves’ “because they are totally free.
Already in motion again, the “nasone” continue to be “a historical and symbolic figure” of Rome, to which citizens have “much affection”. In fact, it’s not strange to see people filling bottles that they take home.
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