When in Rome…Find Free Drinking Water

When I was in Italy three years ago, I found myself holding a beer more often than not. No, it’s not because I’m an alcoholic, but because a glass of beer was that much more cost-effective than a glass of water. And, let’s face it, who’s not on a budget these days?

Whether it’s bubbly or flat, water, for some strange reason, tends to be the most expensive liquid in Europe and “tap” water just doesn’t seem to exist in some restaurants.

However, next time in Rome, you might be able to forgo the expensive acqua naturale and fill up your own Nalgene or Sigg bottle at a drinking fountain for free. The NY Times has discovered two Web sites with downloadable maps pinpointing Rome’s free fountains.

The first is from the Acea Group, an Italian industrial group managing energy, waste and, of course, water. Acea’s map shows dozens of blue pedestals scattered across Rome including high traffic areas such as the Coliseum and Pantheon. The PDF can be downloaded on this page under the link Mappa dei Nasoni – cartina.

The second, and more straightforward Web site is Watermap – a big blue icon announcing “Gratuita!” announces the suitable place to click. Watermap is similar to Acea’s version, although with more street names and detailing (it’s also a bit more colorful, if you’re the aesthetic type). Watermap’s website also has this cool video posted front and center.

Watermap from WatermapRoma on Vimeo.

Whichever map you decide, you now have the tools to confidently visit Italy’s capital city knowing you can save a pretty euro by taking advantage of its extensive network of fountains. Move aside, Trevi – you’ve got company. — Michael Lowe