Acqua Acqua Everywhere

But which kind should you drink?

In 2007, the Beverage Marketing Corporation raked Italy #5 on the list of the world’s largest consumers of bottled water. The United States was #1, naturally, and Canada didn’t even make it into the top 10. Not that I’m saying that it’s something Canadians should strive for, but just to give you an idea.

While traveling, it’s important to stay hydrated. And while daily indulgences in Italy’s fine wines, coffees and mixed drinks might keep you happily stumbling over the cobblestones, it’s important to gulp down a bit of water every now and then. But thirsty buyer beware! In Italy you’ll see two types of water being sold in supermercati and  the like: acqua naturale and acqua frizzante. 

Acqua naturale is regular old bottled water. Plain and simple. Acqua frizzante, is fizzy water, and would be comparable to Perrier or Club Soda, except it enjoys a lot more popularity in Italy. So be sure to specify when your waiter asks if you’d like some water, that you’d like acqua naturale or acqua frizzante. The two kinds come in bottles that are clearly labeled with naturale or frizzante and use different colours to distinguish.

Some people might still use the terms acqua senza gas (water without gas, i.e. natural) and acqua con gas (water with gas, i.e. sparkling).

San Benedetto Acqua Naturale (left) and Acqua Frizzante (right).

You’ll very rarely see an Italian drinking tap water, although it is safe to drink. Many cities and towns also have fountains (that may look decorative) that are usually flowing with potabile (drinkable) water, so fill up your bottle or take a slurp if you pass one. Also, at a restaurant you’ll have to as specifically for acqua con ghiaccio (water with ice) as the temperature’s got to climb astoundingly high for Italians to put ice in their water.

Money Saving Tip: Duck into a supermercato and get your bottled water there, as it can often cost up to 50% less than you would buy it for at a kiosk or a tourist attraction.


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