When my nonna told stories about life in Pontelandolfo she often mentioned the fountains. There is a massive one in the main piazza but there are others scattered among the hills. Some of these fountains date back to Roman times. These fountains were a hub for gossip, doing laundry, getting a quick drink on a hot day and gathering water to drink, cook with and wash in. For generations, mountain spring water has run through ancient pipes and spurted out into jugs that were carried home.
The fountains still exist – but there is a new kid in town! This year when we drove into the center of Pontelandolfo we noticed this big stainless steel box – Acquaself – and a bunch of people hanging around with plastic bottles. Holy smokes – they are getting water! It costs only €.05 a liter for spring water – sparkling or plain. Oh no, I thought, yet another rural ritual blown out of the water.
Years ago, Jack joined Mario Mancini and went up into the mountains to one of five or six ancient fountains. Mario, a foodie and mountain gatherer, knew where to take his bottles to get the best tasting water. They drove miles away from the village center and what did they find – other men filing bottles. Jack was flabbergasted when one of the men turned to him and said in English – where are you from – “New Jersey” – “Me too – Livingston”! That is the magic that happens around the fountain.
The Pontelandolfo main fountain has been a meeting place, photo op and life blood of the community. In the summer kids fill water balloons from the constantly flowing spring water. When that happens I run in the other direction – cross fire can be pretty wet. Can Acauself – a stainless steel box – really replace all that? Interesting question. I’ve gone for our water – I mean .05 for a litter of sparkling water – and chatted with folks who were filling their bottles. Maybe the conversation will continue at the box but I can’t see anyone doing their laundry. The talented Annalaura Iacovella will explain how Acquaself works – so those of you who speak Italian can test your skills – those of you who don’t can read the titles. Happy mineral water to you.