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part II
Small Fountains

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via della Posta Vecchia
small fountain dated 1872

At first a few fountains with a traditional look were made, such as the ones shown above and on the right, but the real change came in 1874.
During the second half of the 19th century, after the city had been taken by the Italian troops (1870), the local population started growing at a very fast rate, also due to many immigrants who poured into Rome from other parts of Italy. As a consequence, some suburban districts which up to that moment had been barely inhabited, considerably expanded within a few decades.

piazzale Flaminio
late 19th century fountain inspired by the old troughs
In that year, among other public works, the municipality had a number of new small fountains set in the modern neighborhoods as well as in the preexisting central ones. Obviously, they were no longer carved by an artist, but mass-produced, made of cast iron, a cheap material compared to stone and marble, yet practical and resistent. These fountains were shaped as a cylinder, about 120 cm. or 3 feet high, with nozzles in the shape of a dragon's head, but they no longer had a basin; in fact, their main purposes were now the population's own needs (drinking water provision, cooking, washing, etc.). The old troughs had definitively subsided.
via delle Tre Cannelle
one of the oldest specimens left

via delle Tre Cannelle
detail of the original dragon-shaped nozzle
During the 20th century, from time to time, more fountains of similar shape were made, to increase the number of outputs. Their design was slightly simplified, and in particular the decorated nozzle was replaced by a plain iron pipe.
The shape of the latter accounts for the nickname given to these fountains, nasoni ("big noses").
Today, according to the latest surveys, there are over 1,000 of them scattered around the city.
piazza della Rotonda
the old nasone by the Pantheon

Unfortunately, the original ones have gradually become very few, either removed or replaced by newer ones.

a modern nasone fountain
Among the oldest nasoni left is the one in piazza della Rotonda, which proudly keeps its stance only a few metres away from the nice Renaissance fountain that faces the Pantheon. It originally had three nozzles, but one of them is now missing.
A similar one, with all of the nozzles still in place, is at the base of the Quirinal Hill, in via delle Tre Cannelle, "three nozzles street", a name referring to a larger wall fountain with three outputs, drawn around 1590 by the famous fountain-maker Giacomo della Porta, that once stood almost on the same spot, but whose traces have now completely disappeared.

a nasone painted by football fans
with the colours of Rome's team

via delle Tre Cannelle
when in Rome, do as the romans do
The nozzle of all the nasoni, either old or new, has a hole on its back which, obstructing the main output with a finger, makes the water gush upwards: in this way drinking is very easy, and very hygienic too, although few non-romans are aware of this simple trick: you will see many visitors struggling in the most uncomfortable positions, in the attempt of reaching the rather low nozzle.

Although cast iron is a material which under the sun heats up very easily, the water poured by these fountains is always cool, as it keeps constantly running; especially during the hot season, the refreshing comfort that the many nasoni provide is particularly welcome by romans and tourists alike.
During the 1980s, the inevitable waste of water they caused was taken into consideration by the municipal administration, which decided to provide most of these fountains with a tap. Some were given a round knob, some others a new brass nozzle with a button (set above the old one, which was sometimes removed). These impromptu devices dramatically reduced the consumption of water, but besides being rather ugly, the water, no longer running, was no longer fresh either, and during the summer even warm because of the heated iron parts. Furthermore, these devices had to be operated while drinking, what the people clearly disliked, and their nozzle no longer had the practical hole on the back. However, due to the cheap quality of these mechanisms and the restless activity of vandals, no longer than a few years after the taps had been mounted, the water was freely running again from many fountains.
Also following the people's discontent, the municipality decided to quit the project, and free the nasoni from the unpleasant taps; very few are still seen around, while most of the fountains now have an empty hole where these devices were once set.
vicolo di S.Celso
nasone left with the additional tap,
but without the original "nose"


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(still unfinished)