The Ides of March, (no, not the film) the fifteenth of March, is today. It is the day on which, in 44 B.C., a group of conspirators led by Brutus (et tu Brutue?) and Cassius stabbed Julius Caesar to death in the Roman Senate. It got me thinking about Rome’s legacy here in Switzerland. While evidence of Switzerland’s time under Roman rule is everywhere, I have a favorite part of their legacy, fountains.
Rome came. Rome built fountains. Rome fell. The fountains remained. Who doesn’t like a fountain? When people could figure out how to do it again, they tried making fountains like those cool old Roman ones. They did it in Switzerland, but all over Europe. Right on.
When we hike in the summer, we can pretty much be sure that we will be able to get water from a fountain. The cows have to drink way up there, so you know they are going to have water. The caveat to this, and don’t mess this up or you will end up like us paying $12 a bottle, is that there are no fountains when you are up high enough. If cows can’t graze up there, they are going to build it. Period.
The water of this fountain once stood in the sea before it evaporated. It traveled in the clouds, and fell as rain before running again towards the sea. This is the water cycle has fragile balance. Respect it.
At almost every fountain, the water is drinkable. In Switzerland, if the water isn’t safe to drink, it will be marked with a sign that reads “Eau Non-Potable” or and “X” over a cup.
You can stick your head under the fountain, like you would at a water fountain, or collect it in a bottle. I love not having to plan my water stops or carry water with me on long runs; the fountains are everywhere.
Eau Potable means the water is safe to drink
Sometimes, flowers decorate the fountains. This always make a great photo opportunity.
Other times, the fountains themselves are decorative and/or commerative.
Zermatt's Beaver Fountain
A fountain in memory of alpine guide Ulrich Inderbinen who summited the Matterhorn over 370 times, with his last ascent at the age of 90!