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COOL AND TASTY WATERS? – A presentation by Professor David Gentilcore

The water supply of early modern Naples was consistently praised by contemporaries for its quantity, quality and accessibility. This praise may come as some surprise to those who know Naples and its more recent history, when the safety of its water supply was frequently called into question. Studies on the management of the water supply in early modern Naples are sorely lacking, despite growing interest in the subject at both an Italian and European level.

This paper attempts to fills this gap. It outlines and evaluates the Neapolitan water supply as it existed in the period when the city, capital of the Kingdom of Naples, was governed by Spanish viceroys, based on archival records and published sources. It focuses on water availability and accessibility, by examining the hydraulic structure and its management, as well as the technicians and trades involved in its execution, maintenance and delivery, before turning to questions of water quality, by analysing contemporary attitudes and perceptions.