This month C.O.S.I tackles the difficult topic of toilets in Italy … no you really need to know this kinda stuff if you ever visit, it’s make or break here and it may save your life!
***Warning this post contains images of Italian toilets, bad double entendre and Australian slang***
I have never understood the reason behind the lack of public toilets in major Italian cities as you would think it is a common courtesy to keep lovely, clean toilets for tourists and visitors.
So what should anyone visiting do to find service rooms in an emergency? Well you can find toilets in shopping malls, at train stations, at ‘Autogrill’ stops on the Autostrada highways, occasionally you can sneak into a bar/café but you are generally obliged to buy something, if you are game you can pop into the town hall or into an office building where no one will say anything to you if you are quick and look as if you work there.
In more touristy areas you can find a clean toilet provided by the local tourist board, which you will have to pay for as there is someone there during office hours to clean it, but these are usually locked up after hours, weekends and public holidays so you are literally screwed if you need to use a toilet in these times!
Apparently it has not always been like this, my husband tells me in the bountiful 1980’s even every small town had clean public toilet service, but vandals and budget cuts put an end to this utopia.
Those few toilets you do find require a gas mask at the entrance, boy toilet paper and disinfectant hand wash it a must. I’m guessing most places have had the same frustrating problem with vandals as the toilets you do find around the place are filled with graffiti, usually proclamations of love and lust, everything from ‘Ti amo Angelina,’ to ‘per divertire chiama Tommy 333333999.’
Well I suppose if you have weak pelvic floor muscles, or you can’t simply tie a knot do as the Italians do and slip in between two parked cars, near trash dumpsters or some bushes and do as nature commands. You are not going to get arrested or fined as we are in Italy baby!
P.S: On researching this post (yes I did put some thought into this one), I came across a couple of useful posts about the toilet situation in Italy which will help you understand what you will come across. Here are some Italian Toilet Basics from Andi Brown at Once in a Lifetime travel and a how to flush tutorial by Alex Roe at Italy Chronicles.
As the rest of the C.O.S.I crew limp back sun-burnt and dazed from their summer holidays we all muse on the bigger questions about life in Italian toilets.
‘M’ from Married to Italy
Misty Elizabeth Evans from Surviving In Italy and her ode to the bidet (couldn’t agree more!)
Rick Zullo from Rick’s Rome and some wise words … what to know before you go!
Georgette on Girl in Florence with her take on life next to a public bathroom.
Gina from The Florence Diaries
Pecora Nera from an Englishman in Italy with his hilarity and gratuitous reference to Maria Grazia Cucinotta.