Acqua Pura: Rome on Tap
November 27, 2011 by orvietoorbust
La Barcaccia, Piazza di Spagna
Rome in late summer can have days so stiflingly and oppressively hot you can think of nothing else but the record high temperatures. Everywhere people are in a fever-induced trance, like melting zombies repeating the same phrases to whomever is within earshot: “Fa caldo!” “E’ caldo come un forno!”. With dead eyes we respond only with a weak, “Si, si”.
I find a small piece of shade near a piazza and sit down on the curb to rest for a minute. The undulating refraction of air rising from the burning pavement creates a mirage. When I stare at one spot long enough, I think I see a figure of the devil forming above a manhole. Hallucination is the first symptom of heat stroke. The soles of my shoes are melting, the mosquitoes that have been gnawing at my ankles have left large red welts on my skin and I’m so dehydrated that my mouth feels filled with cotton balls. Then, not too far in the distance I see it…a drinking fountain! If I weren’t so faint from the heat and humidity I would run toward it like a nomad to an oasis in the Sahara.
Archaeologists believe that the technology for moving water into and around a city originally came from the east, however Romans are unquestionably credited with perfecting the process (i.e., the invention of the aqueduct). This brilliant engineering feat goes unmatched in the ancient world and earned Rome the distinction of having the most available, purest, best-tasting water on the planet. You’ll find Nasone (big nose) fountains scattered throughout the Eternal City – there are about 280 inside its walls alone. On a scorching hot day like this one, all you need to do is simply bend over, stick out your tongue and take a long, cool drink from its glassy stream. L’Acqua di Roma: Liquid of the Gods!
by Toni DeBella