The Old Watering Hole

plastic water

packaged water

In 1980, the average Italian drank 50 liters of water per year. Today that number has soared to 200, as bottled water has become more plentiful, affordable and more habitual—which is a good thing, right? Well, the shadow side of all that water consumption is the abundance of plastic bottles, not to mention those nasty carbon emissions from both production and delivery. So Tuscans, particularly Florentines, have decided to offer ultra-filtered water for free!

small fraction of our quota

small fraction of our quota

Wednesday morning, we refilled the gas can for the lawn mower. As it was placed back into the trunk of the car, Simone glanced inside and noted that we had 6 empty glass bottles in a handy carrier. “Ah, going to refill your water bottles?” he asked. Yes, in nearby Caldine was our answer—our regular spot. “There’s a better place not far from here. It’s a natural spring called, Acquinvogliolo. The water is always cool, fresh and delicious, like no other. It’s a little-known sorgente (spring), where water flows from deep within the cool Tuscan hills.”  Buonissima! Always up for a little adventure, we focused carefully on his directions to the semi-secret location. We were off and running.  At the tiny town of Olmo, we veered right onto via Acquinvogliolo. As we approached the end of the road, we turned to each other and shook our heads. We had failed to find the spring, even with Simone’s expert directions. We were baffled, so decided to save the search for another day.

Sorgente Acquinvogliolo

Sorgente Acquinvogliolo

Friday morning we sipped coffee and munched pastries at our favorite Caldine bar. In casual conversation we asked our friend, Tomasso, if he knew where the sorgente was. No. He did not, but immediately turned toward the kitchen and called to his colleague. Now, that fellow just happens to be a mailman in the neighborhood, and knows every little twist and turn of each street and country road. With great detail, he described our route. He disclosed that there is another entrance to via Acquinvogliolo that is easier to drive. Sure enough, our efforts were rewarded this time as we were soon in a delightfully remote spot, tucked between woods and a beautiful old olive grove. The spring is as it has been for nearly 2000 years. Evidently, the ancient Romans had used it as a refreshing stop along their well-worn route through the Italian countryside. A plaque mounted on the top stone, dates its origin back to the 1st century.

crystal clear water

crystal clear water

Since we had just refilled our bottles in Caldine, we needed at least one empty one to fill. So we traded giant gulps, guzzling an entire liter of the regular old “ultra-filtered water.” Once emptied, we refilled the bottle, but this time, with the nature-fresh, crystal clear acqua right out of the ground. With the nectar of the gods captured in our bottle, we headed for home where we would conduct our own”official” taste test. The water was indeed delicious, just as Simone had promised.

Tuscan tradition

Tuscan tradition

Since that day, we’ve mended our ways. No more processed, or even ultra-filtered water for these would-be Italians.  Instead, you’ll find us relaxing under a shady tree, basking in the cool summer breeze, sipping fresh spring water—all the while serenaded with songs of chirping birds. Goodbye to lines at the local purified water station. Hello to the magic of nature’s healthful offering at the nearly-hidden watering hole. We’ve joined all those who frequent this idyllic spot, in a centuries-old Tuscan tradition.



About cheryl & emerson

The Ride of a Lifetime! After sixteen years of trying to live in Italy as "true Italians," we set out to write a book about our experiences. As it turns out, we ended up doing a lot more than just writing a book because we decided that to capture the essence, we really needed music, poetry, drawings, videos and more. So, that's exactly what we did. You can find our complete body of work at We hope you can visit us from time to time—let us know what your personal adventure looks like. Perhaps we can all glean some inspiration to go out and write a new chapter in our own stories! Wishing you the best, Cheryl and Emerson
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1 Response to The Old Watering Hole

  1. Valerie says:

    Glad to see your blog online again! Loved reading about your find of a sweet-tasting, watering-hole dating to the first century! What sensations arise…

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