Originally installed in 1874, there are apparently more than 2500 of them... the Nasoni (Big Noses) supply fresh water to the public in Rome. The nickname was given because of their spouts' resemblance to a larger than normal nose. Within the Aurelian walls of Rome there are over 250 of them for your use. And have no fear... this water is perfectly fine for drinking--cold and fresh. In fact, using the nasoni is a great way to save on price gouging that goes on with refreshment street vendors, who charge overly high prices for bottled water. Trust me, it can be very hot and humid in Rome--even in the "cooler" spring and fall. Never go anywhere without a water bottle. Filling your own, reusable sport bottle is the way to do it in Rome. Don't waste money on bottled water.
The nasoni are beautifully designed. The 200 pound, cast iron fountains stand about 3 feet tall, with distinctive spouts supplying a continuous stream of potable water. That's right, it flows all the time. Romans call it l’acqua del sindaco (the mayor’s water), since the government maintains the water flow.
The older nasoni have a dragon's head at the end. Newer ones have a smooth torch decoration. Some older ones have three spouts while most have one. Please don't be put off by the rust or minerals built up at the base of the nasoni--the water is perfectly pure. All of the nasoni bear the shield of Rome with SPQR emblazoned on it. This is from the Latin phrase from Ancient Rome: Senātus Populusque Rōmānus (The Roman Senate and People). Today, this is the official emblem of the modern Roman government.
The nasoni also have a little known secret--at least tourists don't seem to know about it... On top of the spout (the nose) there is a small hole that can turn this faucet into a drinking fountain. The trick is holding your hand (hopefully clean) under the open spout, plugging it up. This forces a little water jet to pop out of the small hole on top, allowing you to drink as you would from a modern drinking fountain. (It's customary to rinse your hands before doing this in an effort to keep the spout clean.) Just hold your hand steady as you drink, or you might get sprayed in the face! Watch the cute video below... this bellissima bambina explains it so well.
Roman pooches really appreciate lapping up a cool drink
Here is a LINK to an interactive map of Rome that can help locate nasoni.
There are also over 1000 fontanelle (drinking fountains) scattered around Rome