Leading mineral water producer
Italy produces about 12% of the world’s mineral water, however they consume far more than their fair share – over twice the European average. Italy is a country known since ancient times for great tasting fresh water even among its municipal water systems. The very finest of Italy’s spring waters are bottled at their source after spending years absorbing important minerals underground. Even though normal Italian drinking water flowing through fountains and water spigots does not get the special attention of the bottled waters, it is still of very high quality noticeable to many travelers.
Mineral water must come from an underground source by law. These waters spend years if not decades or centuries trapped underground, absorbing nutrients and minerals as they pass through rich soil, limestone, or volcanic rock. It is this process of absorbing dissolved solids that give them their unique tastes and healthy attributes, often listed on the label as TDS – Total Dissolved Solids. Each source touts it own specific health benefits from drinking their waters, often in conjunction with the local thermal spa treatments.
When finally released to the surface, Italian mineral water comes from the ground either still or in some cases, naturally carbonated. However even most of the still mineral waters are later carbonated artificially to some extent. There are plenty of Italian mineral waters sold without carbonation, but it seems that Italians prefer at least some bubbles in their water if not naturally present. In Italy when you sit down at a restaurant, the waiter will normally ask if you would like your water flat, carbonated or slightly carbonated.
Outside of Italy, most think of San Pellegrino brand when they think of Italian mineral water. Within Italy itself however, there may be over 600 brands of bottled mineral water, many of these are local varieties but there are also extremely popular national brands. Not only do travelers in Italy get to try hundred of varieties of regional wines, they also get to enjoy the different tastes and health benefits of the regional mineral waters as well.
Some of the well known mineral waters: Acqua Panna is a still mineral water from Tuscany with a low mineral content that is available outside of Italy. San Benedetto is a worldwide brand bottled near Venice known for its low mineral content that comes in both still and carbonated varieties. San Pellegrino was a favorite of Leonardo DaVinci while in Milan and this heavily carbonated mineral water has since gained worldwide popularity since.