Thursday, September 6, 2012

Good to Drink

Sample of an Italian woman filling bottles at a water fountain in Tarcento, Italy

According to Wikipedia, each person consumes an average of 370 liters of water per day in the United States, with peaks up to 720 liters; each Canadian consumes around 343 liters, with peaks at 1,287 liters in the city of Montreal.
I know, we all enjoy making love in the shower, sometimes, with water running hot down our body for over 1 hour. We need to tend our garden, our bonsai needs to be watered everyday.
Other than that, you've got to be kidding me!

Traveling to the small town of Tarcento, in the north of Italy, I discovered how the Italians - and the Europeans in general - are so much more water-conscious.
Many cities and towns in Italy are involved in a project called "Casa dell'Acqua", "Water House". In the little town of Tarcento, in particular, the project takes the name of "Buine di Bevi", which in the local dialect means "good to drink".
A water fountain is located in the town center. Two taps provide still and naturally sparkling water through a line of pipes directly from the spring, which is in the Musi mountain chain, north of Tarcento. And - listen up - the water is free (well, 5c a liter for the sparkling water).

What are the advantages?
Taste New York City's tap water, or Montreal's for that matter, after you've tasted Tarcento's and you'll figure it out by yourself.

1- The people in there drink pure water from the mountain spring that has been filtered, disinfected, declorized, kept at spring temperature, and whose pipes are constantly kept under control, cleaned and changed if needed.
If this is not healthy, I don't know what is, then.

2- This idea reduces the water costs per family, but not the quality of the water they drink which, with all due respect, here in North America is less than a dream.

3- People are becoming aware of the importance of water in times when unlimited consumption is neither a good nor an ethical choice. 

4- Bottles usage is drastically reduced. People gather at this nice billabong with bottles, mostly of glass, they've been re-using for months.

They gather. With their bags swollen with bottles they seat on some wooden benches, waiting for their turn at the tap. As they wait, they talk with each other, asking how's the wife, and the kids, in the meanwhile, are playing a few yards away on the sidewalk, just outside of a small bar. Yes, it is downright beautiful.
They slow down their rhythm by introducing a priceless habit, the ritual of manually getting their own water, transporting it, and enjoying every single moment of the act. And retirees won't pack the post office. God knows how much Xanax, Citalopram, or Inderal this would save us!

Let's keep laughing at the Italians then, those poor son of a bitches, with their Berlusconis, their failing warfare, and their ridiculous politics. But you should consider that, sometimes, they come up with something as precious as you will never find here in America. Never.



  1. My Damascene moment ref water was an August Day in Pompeii when the temperature oscillated between that of Mercury and the Mohave desert. We staggered from water pipe to water pipe and NEVER has water tasted so good. My love affair continued...for a time.

  2. Great post Jay! Thanks for sharing this little slice of life in Italy. It is so much more than just about water, it feels like community.

    I have long wanted to go to Italy most likely given my italian heritage. It must have been amazing.


  3. Jay, what a cool post. There are so many times I long for such a simpler life... a life like you described in Tarcento. The two simple words "They Gather" were so powerful. We don't have that here. Everyone is so rushed, so focused on getting to the next destination--not taking the time to just... be. Experience. Gather.

    Funny enough, my hubs speaks Italian fluently and he lived there for a couple years and he talks all the time about how he just wants to pick up our family and move there! Maybe someday I'll get to fill bottles from a water fountain in Italy. ;)

  4. Mike, oh Mike,
    But of course! Water there was 3,000 years old. It's Pompeii! Then, being not far from Naples, the liquid trash miasmas get in the water and give it the tasty flavor you experienced.

    Thank you for reading!
    Yes, good water is the frame, but there is so much more to it all.
    Visit Italy soon then!

    When I wrote "They gather", I had in mind groups of zebras, buffalos, gnus, antelopes, elephants, and other African fauna crowding a waterhole in Africa. I thought that the two simple words "they gather" would convey the image just simply and clearly. I also imagined some oldies (in pension, of course) in there trumpeting or whinnying because one of the guys filling bottles won't make it snappy.
    Thanks for passing by!

    1. I hate water but am all for preserving it. I often write letters to Budwieser thanking them for their contributions to my efforts to conserve.

  5. Hey, Jay,

    Enjoyed your post. Man you said a mouthful. I LOVE Europe for that reason. They are FAR healthier than Americans and they truly know how to live.

  6. Very interesting post. It seems the Italians have gotten this one right. Thank you for taking note and passing it on

  7. Dan,
    I know what you mean. But if you drink Budweiser I'm not sure you actually love beer...

    Welcome to my blog.
    Yes, Europeans are a step ahead on that. A step behind on lots of other things though, I'm afraid.

    Yes, they got this one right!

  8. Hi Jay,
    Anybody that respects our natural resources, it's a hero in my book ;)
    Yes, I remember when I was visiting friends in Spain back in 1995, they had already implemented the recycling idea. I hadn't seen it in the USA until years later. In North America our mentality is, "the land of plenty, so let's waste it". I think the next war will be over water. People don't realize that once our natural resources are gone, they're gone! I hope I am not around when that happens. Thank you for sharing this eye-opening post, Jay.

  9. Here in the UK where tap water is most drinkable and most safe - it's still mind boggling how bottled water continues to be sold! Take care

  10. "I know, we all enjoy making love in the shower, sometimes, with water running hot down our body for over 1 hour." Haha, this cracked me up.

    I didn't realize Americans ridiculed Italians like that. It's too bad.

  11. "I know, we all enjoy making love in the shower, sometimes, with water running hot down our body for over 1 hour." Haha, this cracked me up.

    I didn't realize Americans ridiculed Italians like that. It's too bad.

  12. Hi Claudia,
    I'm afraid you'll be around when that happens!
    I'll move to the mountain, next to a water spring, and I'll be able to drink the water before anyone else.
    Thanks for commenting!

    What I think is funny is that the quality of bottled water is often very, very low. But people seem not to care. Oh well.

    Well, I might be out of shape and a bit of an ugly duckling, but still...
    I think everybody ridicules Italians. I can see why, but most of the time I realize that those who ridicule them are not any better. I mean, it makes no sense to make fun of the Italians because of Berlusconi and vote for Bush. Does it?