If you are about to come to Venice you may want to know whether drinking local tap water is safe or not. Everywhere you look, in fact, you see water: not just in the canals, but also in the many fountains located in many squares.
So, it may occur to you the question about the safety of that water. For example, is water safe to drink at your hotel or at your apartment?
In this article, in order to let you have the most safe and enjoyable holiday, we'll give you all the detailed info about Venetian drinking water.
Is tap water safe to drink in Venice Italy?
In one of the last articles about what you should NOT do while in Venice, we did not talk about tap water. We recommended you don't jump into the canals of Venice or do not walk on or near the green steps, but we did not say anything about it.
Why is that so? It's because it is perfectly safe to drink tap water in Venice. Tap water comes from Venetian mainland, and it's fresh and tasty. An automated system continuously analyses the quality of the water, so you can be sure that tap water in Venice is totally safe to drink. And not only in Venice but in the entire country.
This info may confuse you, because of the many people that drink bottled water very often, at their hotel, bar, or even at home. It may be misleading but we will give you the reason behind this behavior later in the article.
As for now, we would like to introduce you to the curious history of tap water in Venice. Have you ever wondered how Venetians used to drink water in the past?
How ancient Venetians used to drink water safely (and without any bottle)
Considering that Venice is a city built on water and it is completely surrounded by the lagoon, it could be difficult to imagine how the ancient population used to drink.
The answer to your question is inside the Venetian wells
You can see traces of how they did in all the wells scattered throughout many places of the city center. The population, in fact, used to gather the rain into drains and then filter it through sand. The clean water was then stored into cisterns.
The wells located in every corner of the city of Venice were fundamental and they provided the population with the water for drinking but also washing and cooking.
For many years the system was as simple as that. Then the population began to increase and it became necessary to find another way.
Everything had to change with the arrival of the French
In 1857 the local population grew to 120.000 people. The time to decide had arrived.
The Municipality of Venice in 1874 gave its approval for the construction of an aqueduct able to collect the water from the River Brenta and the channel Seriola (nowadays nothing more than a stream). On June 23rd, 1884 the aqueduct was ready.
Shortly after the solemn inauguration, Venice discovered that the water coming from Seriola was not drinkable.
So, what happened to the aqueduct of Venice?
It was necessary to find a new solution which was found in the Veneto region, in the surrounding area of the city of Padua. It was discovered, in fact, that the town of Trebaseleghe (northern Padua) is the origin of a particularly fresh and tasty water.
That very water is the tab water you usually drink when you come to Venice.
How does Venice get drinking water: the nowadays water supply system
If you come to Venice, you will immediately notice how many water fountains are scattered through the city. Even if on those fountains it is not specified if the water is drinkable or not, you can drink all that tap water you want.
However, you will also notice that many people still prefer bottled water even if the system to control the quality is very tough.
As you now know, water comes from the mainland. Actually, it comes from a place located 300 meters underground. Absolutely untouched by human activities.
The Venetian tap water system today: the Veritas society
The water refilled all the wells and fountains of Venice, gradually providing also the nearby islands. The society that today is entitled to the water service is called Veritas (ex Vesta).
Veritas in fact provides the city with the best tap water, collected by the nearby areas.
The strict system which controls water quality in Venice Italy
As a member of UE, the drinking water in Italy has to fulfill certain standards.
It means that Italian water (and not just the Venetian one) has to follow the rules and the controls of the local authority, but also of the Environmental Protection Agency. They do many strict and daily controls to be sure that the water is good for your health.
Tap water in Venice is not just good: it is among the best in Italy
Even if all the tap water you will be drinking in Italy is good, Venetian one is recognized as one of the best (like that of Rome). And you will notice it as soon as you taste the fountain water!
Sometimes it may taste a little of chlorine, added to water just to keep it free from contamination. If you use a water filter, however, you won't experience it.
Anyway, why do so many people, tourists included, still continue to buy water instead of going to water fountains or ordering tap water?
Let's dig into this great waste producing phenomenon.
Why many people choose to drink bottled water instead of tab one in Venice Italy
This strange behavior to buy and drink water coming from a bottle rather than a faucet is gradually changing.
However it is still common to buy water to drink at your apartment or to order bottled water at the restaurant or at the hotel. That is a common practice closely related to three main reasons.
1) The great storytelling done by brands
In Italy we have so many brands which sell water (more than 250, we suspect). Each one has its own characteristics and sells water coming from a very specific area in Italy.
2) The belief that bottled water is healthier
For many people it is not only more safe to drink bottled water but it is even healthier. Many brands, in fact, highlight the properties of their water so that they can sell more products. The same products that customers are able to see coming from their very faucets.
3) Typologies of water sold in bottles
In case you enter a local supermarket you will see how many water bottles are being sold. They are all different from one another. You may try different brands but also different typologies. In fact, there is still water (liscia, in Italian), sparkling (frizzante, in Italian), but also a type of water which is halfway between the two and it is called effervescente.
These three reasons mean not only that at local restaurants or at your hotel you will be charged for the water, but also a resulting environmental problem.
The problem of plastic bottles in Venice Italy
Buying so many plastic bottles is generating a major waste disposal problem. Venice is not able to deal with issues, coming greater and greater year after year.
For this reason, the City Council is asking the population and the tourists to drink tap water and save their money instead. If you consider that more than 20 million visitors come to Venice every year, it is easy to understand how many plastic bottles are used.
Is Tap water in Venice safe or not? Our recommendations from a local point of view
In case you are coming to Venice, please listen to our local advice.
Refresh yourself drinking at the neighborhood fountains and try to order tap water at bars and restaurants. Also at your hotel room, be sure that the water is good for you to drink, unless otherwise specified.
In case you have any, try to use your plastic bottles again and do not leave them in the environment. If you are renting an apartment try to drink from your faucets.
You will see how great tap water is in Venice! In addition, you will save some money to use for all your adventures!