The vedovelle drinking fountains

The vedovelle [young widows in Italian] are the famous drinking fountains in typical of Milan. Their name is due to the incessant trickle of water that resembles the everlasting tears of a widow.

The Milan residents say, "let’s go for a drink at the Green Dragon’s place" because the tap has the shape of a dragon’s head.

About 400 are currently in operation throughout the Municipality area.

They are made cast iron to the original design dating back to 1931 and painted green, the only exception being the very first fountain in unpainted bronze, installed at Piazza della Scala. It might appear that the vedovelle waste water, but that is not true. Their continuous trickle serves not just to quench thirst - the steady flow, keeps the water fresh and helps maintain its quality even at the dead-end pipes.

The water flow from the fountains is trifling compared to the water distributed by the waterworks; in fact, the total of the all the fountains accounts for just 8 L (1.8 imp gal) per second against an average flow rate of about 7,500 L (1,650 imp gal) per second of the water supplied by the City waterworks, or about 11 in 10,000.

Furthermore, closing the water would increase the growth of dangerous bacterial flora. The water trickling from the fountains is not simply wasted - through the sewerage system it ends up at one of the Milan wastewater treatment plants, is recycled and used by the farming consortia to irrigate fields south of Milan.  

In 2010, MM sponsored the association to map the vedovelle drinking fountains in Milan (

The project won the Milano in Progress award, the creative business marathon in Lombardy, which takes place within the Innovation Festival.