Italians, the descendants of the water-savvy and water-loving Romans, still maintain a potable supply of drinking water today. Overall, the water quality in Italy is excellent. Italy’s drinking water is safe to drink and widely available, with public fountains running fresh drinking water throughout many major cities.

These fountains, called “nasoni,” which means “big noses” in Italian, provide high-quality and free drinking water in cities like Rome and Florence for locals and tourists alike. Florence regulates its water with a strict code of 61 parameters. Florentine officials examine the chemicals in the water and its microbiology using these parameters to ensure potability.

Both rural and urban populations in Italy have 100 percent access to improved water sources, making water quality in Italy superb, even better than the United States, which comes in at 99 percent access to improved water sources.

Although all Italians have access to improved water sources, the water quality in Italy does vary slightly by city. Naples, for example, has lower quality water than most other major Italian cities. The water in Naples “may be safe to drink” according to a tourist water safety website. However, strains of local E. coli are present within Naples’ tap water. Locals are accustomed to these strains of E. coli, but tourists and other visitors are not. Therefore, the water is safe for locals, but visitors require a transition period in order to drink the water without experiencing unpleasant after-effects, such as diarrhea.

The inferiority of Naples’ drinking water compared to other Italian cities could be due to the toxic waste and immense pollution in Naples. Some claim that the mafia dumped hazardous industrial waste on agricultural lands outside of Naples, creating pollution problems. More obvious pollutants are the immense piles of garbage lining the streets of Naples and the litter on its surrounding farmlands.

Although pollution threatens health and safety standards in Naples, the city fights against it by cleaning up dirtied areas and installing spaces for outdoor recreation. By 2014, the city of Naples created a larger beachfront for pedestrian use and a bicycle lane lining its coast. Additionally, large portions of Naples’ bay have been cleaned, allowing for swimmers to retake the water.

Decreasing pollution creates tangibly increased standards of health and safety, including better water quality in Italy. Additionally, reigning in pollution increases the quality of living for residents of a city, as it provides greener and more appealing outdoor spaces, encouraging physical activity for its residents.

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr