Even today, in many parts of the world, people still draw their water from communal wells. While it makes for a great deal of work (and great economy in water usage!), it does lead to routine interactions around the wellhead, as people wait their turn.
While very few wellheads can be seen in the USA today, they remain quite common in much of Europe, and many of them are still places where anyone can get water, which is handy if you have a kid with freshly smeared ice cream. As far as I know, all the wells in Venice are now sealed off, but the wellheads remain, and they are still social spaces, even if on a more modest scale. People tend to sit on their steps, set their knapsacks and lunch on the well covering, or just lean against them.
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