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Italy Has a Free Wine Fountain

Quench your thirst with what could be the world’s most welcome glass of wine

Ortona = your new home. (Christopher E. Hamrick - Flickr/Creative Commons)
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When you're stateside, quenching your thirst at a drinking fountain means something institutional and predictable. But in Italy, one drinking fountain has a little more zing. As Catherine Edwards reports for The Local, an Italian town now has a 24/7 fountain that dispenses wine instead of water—and it doesn't cost a cent to drink.

The fountain was installed in Ortona, Abruzzo, an Italian town south of Rome that's known for its red Montepulciano wine grapes. People have been making wine in the region since the sixth century B.C.

Edwards explains that the wine fountain came out of a collaboration by a winemaker called Dora Sarchese Vini and an organization that promotes a popular pilgrimage route called the Cammino di San Tommaso, or the "Way of St. Thomas." The 196-mile pilgrimage connects historical churches and abbeys and is popular with Roman Catholic visitors who walk the entire path on foot from Rome. In Ortona, the Basilica of St. Thomas the Apostle holds what are said to be the remains of Saint Thomas himself, who was an apostle of Jesus.

Amazingly enough, Italy isn’t the only place that has served wine for free 24/7 from a fountain. In Spain, there’s a wine fountain (also serving red wine) to pilgrims on another religious path—and a webcam to let far-flung fans of free vino watch people fill up their bottles. And Europe itself has a rich history of free wine, from a Venetian wine fountain for employees of a shipyard in the 1630s to a tradition of making wine flow through water conduits in the English court of the 1500s.

Of course, there are other fountains all over Italy. Rome alone boasts over 2,500 public fountains, or nasoni (big noses), which pump out water for one and all. But Ortona’s free-flowing wine gives another meaning to public refreshment.

Glass empty again? Consider a trip to Belgium, which now has a two-mile-long beer pipeline that pumps over 1,000 gallons of ale per hour throughout the city of Bruges. Okay, the project doesn’t send beer directly into people’s houses, but it’s enough to make some thirsty travelers start rooting around for their passports. The cities of Europe may not all flow with beer and wine yet, but between wine fountains for religious pilgrims and beer zipping beneath the streets of Bruges, things are off to a sloshy start.

(h/t Travel + Leisure)

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