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  1. #1
    We're traveling to Italy in June,,,Venice, Florence and then onto Rome for a week. I hear horror stories about public bathrooms. What's the real story. Thanks!

  2. #2
    We're traveling to Italy in June,,,Venice, Florence and then onto Rome for a week. I hear horror stories about public bathrooms. What's the real story. Thanks!

  3. #3

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    in my personal experience for the most part they aren't very well taken care of and often times don't have toilet paper. what italians do is take small packets of kleenex with them everywhere and just use that in the place of toilet paper. there are places that are better well kept, especially resteraunts and the like, but airports, trainstations, possibly museums, will not be well kept.

  4. #4


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    In Venice, there weren't a lot of public facilities, but they were in fairly good shape - you will have to pay 1 Euro per visit to use one (unless you have a Venice Card that includes public restrooms).

    In other places, both quantity and quality are mixed. Usually your best bet is to stop into a bar, have a coffee, and then use their facilities. Still costs a Euro, but at least you get your coffee!

  5. #5


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    They also have what's known as a Turkish style commode. Essentially it's a hole in the floor that you stand over. I never tried it, but the one at the train station in Lucca was clean. However, the one at Monterosso was filthy. The best thing is to do what the others have suggested, only we bought wine.

    Ginger

  6. #6


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    The ones in France were worst. I carried my own toilet paper with me. Charmin-to-go doens't have the void in the center of the toilet paper roll. I bought about 6 of them at the Target to take with me. I biggger problem is the lack of ANY toilet facility in many places. I have bought things in stores in Italy with the sole purpose of using their toilet.

  7. #7

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    It is for little reasons like this that having an apartment/hotel in the city center is VERY convenient - a clean bathroom is never that far away.
    Lately it occurs to me
    what a long, strange trip its been

  8. #8


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    Acccording to the law, stores and bars should allow the free use of the toilets at any person that requests it. yet, your best option in Italay is to walk into any bar, which are the places where we Italians use toilets while not at home. Just for manners you can buy a coffee or a drink whatsoever, but remeber that you are not forced to have it. Shops often have tiny toilets for the shopoiwners' use only that are usualy not particularly clean. Other good places for public toilets are department stores and hotels, which usually have a toilet accessible for the hall for the occasional user.
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  9. #9

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    You know how little kids cross their legs when they really, really hafta go? Well, after drinking a lot of water while traversing along the Tiber on a very hot October afternoon. I really, really had to go. I looked so anquished that the proprietor of an extremely upscale establishment allowed me immediate acess to the bagno - gratis. Some things can just be 'said" in any language, haha.

    The Vatican has very nice facilities at no charge.

  10. #10


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    'Where is the nearest McDonalds?'

    Our joke is that in Europe McDonald's is good for its facilities~not its food. I don't know why but don't feel the least bit quilty about using their bathroom. Although I have been known to buy a drink... some places guard the golden key.
    Still carry paper. Suprize, suprize McDonalds bathrooms are not always the cleanest.
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  11. #11


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    bathrooms across Italy can vary from horrific to OMG gorgeous.

    Below is a listing of PUBLIC bathrooms.

    Places good clean bathrooms consistently exist are the places where you pay to use the facilities. The only exception is the Vatican. The public restrooms are to the right of the facade of St Peters and are free and 99.9% of the time very clean. (handicap accessible)

    Termini in Rome and Santa Maria Novella station in Florence, both cost (<1 euro) and both are clean although sometimes you end up waiting in line in Rome. Both have excellent accessible toilets and will allow a companion to go with you to assist.

    The Borghese Gallery (basement, not accessible) very clean. There is an accessible bathroom in the gardens and at the zoo near the Gallery. Villa Julia Museo Etruscani has lovely, clean accessible (provided the staff knows how to operate the ramp and can find the key) bathrooms.

    The Uffizi is horrific (so bad I was afraid my shoes would get some disease. In 2000 I actually went back to the hotel and poured antiseptic mouthwash over the bottom of my shoes!!) and are what I call adventure toilets and others call Turkish toilets. There are no accessible bathrooms. (spring 2006)

    Pitti Palace clean and acccessible (spring 2006).

    Medici Chapel - not accessible (stairs and I was in bad shape that day) so I wasn't able to evaluate - spring 2006.

    There is one bathroom in the forum in Rome - it is so far back and so well hidden that usually it is very clean because nobody but staff knows about it. (not accessible design - rough ground - spring 2006)

    The Mercati Trajani used to have one of the cleanest bathrooms in Rome - 3 euro admission to the mercati currently closed for restauro. Not accessible (stairs and design).

    In Rome the top museums (Capitoline, Borghese, etc) usually have clean accessible bathrooms. Also the Museo de Roma smaller museums (Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Braschi, Crypto Balbi) will consistently have very clean bathrooms. Palazzo Barberini had an accessible designed bathroom but there were 2 steps into it. DUH.

    The Coloseum bathrooms are absolute pits. Think about the worst football stadium in the USA, now figure 30,000 attendance and 4 bathrooms. You get the idea. The exception is the handicap bathroom (new this spring) which at least is kept locked and you had to ask for a key. And BTW the handicap bathroom is only marginally accessible. You go up a ramp and while on the incline have to open the door and then push yourself up the last bit while pushing the door open and make a 90 degree turn (cursings on the architects head).

    McDonalds at Piazza Rotunda and Piazza Spagna - not accessible (steps lots of steps at Spagna - 3 at Rotunda). Termini and 2 blocks west of Largo Argentina are accessible. Both are NOT very clean. The women's room by the Largo Argentina - waste container had not been dumped for at least 2 days.

    Burger King about 3 blocks north of Trevi - regular bathrooms are in the basement - hubby said guys was fine - handicap bathroom on main floor - fabulous!! I LOVE BURGER KING!! but only for their toilets.

    Amazingly the 2 cleanest accessible bathrooms in Rome were the Baths of Diocletian and baths of Caracalla.

    We ALWAYS travel with waterless handcleaner and baby wipes.

    The best advice is to get a centrally located apartment or hotel that way if you gotta go at least you can head back "home" to someplace clean.

  12. #12

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    You cannot expect that all toilets in Italian bathrooms will have "TOILET SEATS". This blew me away my first time in Italy 5 years ago. I am going back in September and am presently looking into bringing a folding toilet seat that I can use when one is not there.
    I have also been thinking about importing toilet seats to Italy since there must be a shortage.....they are only 15 to 20 dollars...Maybe I can make some serious money from this idea. Why they would rather squat is beyond me! Those Italians must have strong legs!!!! LOL!

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by arlington:
    We're traveling to Italy in June,,,Venice, Florence and then onto Rome for a week. I hear horror stories about public bathrooms. What's the real story. Thanks! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

  13. #13


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    The rason why therea re no toilet seats is that we Italians would not seat on a public toilet anyhow, if we can help it. That's why also lots of us, if there is a choice, prefer the Turkish style for public toilets: you squat and don't touch anything that may be dirty or contaminated. besides, Turkish toilets are damn comfortable (if your knees are in a good condition!) for some operations, to the point that I often squat on top of the toilet at home when I find any difficulty "expliciting" them.
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  14. #14
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    There is a map of public restrooms in Florence that was mentioned in another ST thread about this subject. (I found it by using the "Find" button at the top of this page and entering public restrooms, Florence)

  15. #15
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">prefer the Turkish style for public toilets: you squat and don't touch anything that may be dirty or contaminated. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Beware: if you are not accustomed to squatting and urinating in a hole in the ground, it is that much easier to end up with urine all over your legs..... granted it's yours... but still disgusting.

    After some practice, I agree, it is painless and, in some respects, more sanitary.

    I never leave the house without a few packets of tissues in my bag. It's a must. You just never know.

  16. #16
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    For those with more than a passing interest, may I suggest the famous Things I Don't Understand About Italy Thread (aka "the toilet and Bidet Thread)

    Amy in MA
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  17. #17


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    How can you? Do you stay suspended in mid-air? You have to squat all the way, legs folded in half, tights resting on your shins.
    Alice Twain
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  18. #18

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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by arlington:
    We're traveling to Italy in June,,,Venice, Florence and then onto Rome for a week. I hear horror stories about public bathrooms. What's the real story. Thanks! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    As the others said, often they don't have
    seats on them. And I was surprised how many
    tourist-visited places didn't have the best of
    circumstances, in a country whose roads and
    everything else are so well kept up, the land
    so cared for and beautiful.

    But, here's an example of Italian hospitality,
    to a rare degree in this world. In Cortona,
    I saw a woman exiting her home on a hill with baby
    in tow, and I asked her where the nearest toilette
    might be and it turned out she was an American who
    was in Italy to take care of her mother. I explained
    I had 'serious business' to do and, so, a close-by
    place (restaurant, bar) would be good.

    She said she'd let me use her place but she
    was stressed out about taking care of her mother
    that day, who is very ill. I said, no, no reason
    to use hers! And she thought of where a place might
    be nearby and then said, "Oh, come on in and use
    mine but please don't take much time." Well !!!
    I was taken aback by such generosity. She told
    me to go upstairs and gave me directions to the
    bathroom. I couldn't believe she'd let a stranger
    come in and go unsupervised upstairs, since it
    looked like a little villa, very fancy and
    beautiful. But I did my thing and came down
    and asked where the exit was (I am easily lost)
    and she told me, from another room. I thanked
    her profusely when she came to the door with
    me later. She said no problem. BUT I can't
    imagine having a total stranger come into my
    home and up the stairs for that. So, I am
    very impressed with Italian hospitality!

    I wish I had taken the address so I could
    send a thank you note.

    - A
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  19. #19
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Alice Twain:
    How can you? Do you stay suspended in mid-air? You have to squat all the way, legs folded in half, tights resting on your shins. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Well, without putting too much more graphic image into the minds of you all- I frankly don't want to position myself any closer to the "pit" (as I like to call it) as I have to.

    Those bathrooms STINK and there is urine everywhere, in the pit, on the "footholds", on the floor. I'd rather keep my knees at a minimum bend and my nose (and stockings) as far away from the stink as possible. I've gotten pretty good at... um... aiming from the heights. So it was only a problem for me my first couple of tries. hahaha.

  20. #20

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    There is also a nice little "facility" just behind the kiosk outside the Domus Auorea

  21. #21
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    Adding to Rome Addict's excellent list, we found a good, free bathroom in the Vittoriano Museum near the Victor Emanuel monument in Rome. Don't recall how accessible it was though.

    And on the Turkish toilets -- perhaps I have not discovered the right technique, but I just don't think they work for women wearing pants, even if your knees can take it!

  22. #22

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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Lynne Zielinski:
    There is also a nice little "facility" just behind the kiosk outside the Domus Auorea </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Lynne and all, excuse the private note, sorta,
    but are you the same Lynne Zielinski who is
    a Hands-On Universe teacher with us ???

    - Andrys
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  23. #23


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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by alyssa:
    It is for little reasons like this that having an apartment/hotel in the city center is VERY convenient - a clean bathroom is never that far away. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I SO agree with this.
    Besides being able to drop off or pick up a jacket, a guide book, purchases and so on, one also gets that clean bathroom break, with all the amenities.

  24. #24
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">'Where is the nearest McDonalds?' </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Someone else on to my trick, too! When we're taking car trips and the urge strikes, I always ask hubby if we can stop at a McDonald's. He knows that's code for needing a facility. We rarely eat there anymore, but I ate there enough as a kid that I feel no guilt in not actually buying anything.

    Boston just implemented portapottys that self clean when you are done. It costs about a quarter to use. I wish that company would find more locations to sell to (like Italy)!

  25. #25

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    In Rome on Via Corso there are toilets at the Autogrille, a large department store, and an indoor shopping mall...all three of these are within a couple of blocks of each other and across the street from the Piazza Colonna.

  26. #26
    aren't we focussing a lot on the negative here? Yes the few turkish toilets I've come across sent me running, and but there are very few left these days, and while again I've seen a few WCs that were less than sanitary, the majority have been as well kept as any I find here at home (and I've seen the occasional filthy pit here in the US too). And unlike here at home, almost every city/town I've been to has had public toilets in the center which we sure don't - no option BUT to go to a store or restaurant in most U.S. downtowns. And I love that most of the public WCs in Italy have a caretaker to keep them relatively tidy, so yes you may pay a few coins, but in return you get guaranteed toilet paper & fairly clean stalls.

  27. #27

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    just for fun, some of you might enjoy perusing http://www.thebathroomdiaries.com/italy/index.htmlthis site for serious bathroom commentary.

  28. #28

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    oops, didn't do that right. Obviously, the link ends with "html".

  29. #29


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    I had thought the reason that many of the toilets did not have toilet seats was because they had been vandalized and carried away. The amount of graffiti and general vandalism in Rome just blew me me way. I got the feeling that if something wasn't permanently affixed, in italy it woudf be carried off. The toilet seats jsut had been bolted down well enough I thought.

  30. #30


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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">For those with more than a passing interest, may I suggest the famous Things I Don't Understand About Italy Thread (aka "the toilet and Bidet Thread) </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That was great Amy! Reading this thread made me think that maybe the reasone you need a bidet is to clean up after the Turkish commode?

    I have peed by squatting outside without getting urine on my legs, but I needed a tree to hold onto to get the right angle so that it all falls away from myself and not onto my legs. i don't suppose there is a pole to hang onto in that Turkish commode? That would be too dirty jsut like the toilet seats?

  31. #31

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    lauram, That's just one of the best sites I've seen in ages!!

    The Turkish toilets remind me of camping. Where's the nearby bush with "nature's toilet paper" tho?
    My favorite bar in Florence has these, and when I finally have to break down and find a bathroom I know its time to leave. Ick!
    Lately it occurs to me
    what a long, strange trip its been

  32. #32


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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Roz:
    Adding to Rome Addict's excellent list, we found a good, free bathroom in the Vittoriano Museum near the Victor Emanuel monument in Rome. Don't recall how accessible it was though.

    </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Absolutely NOTHING at Victor Emanuel monument is accessible. Even the side doors have 3-13 steps once you are inside.

  33. #33

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    The facilities at Mc Donalds in Trastevere (Rome) were diabolical - not clean at all. But, Mc Donalds in Milano near the Duomo were sparkling clean. The coffee at 'Maccas' there was good too. The ones we experienced at the Auto Grills were staffed & quite acceptable. A donation of 20 to 30 eurocents was quite acceptable.
    In Florence, I recall we actually went into a bar and ordered our coffees then my wife asked to use the facilities - they were free and clean. So try to time your Cafe fix for when nature calls !!.

    Overall, we had no real issues, but take a small pack of tissues just in case.

    Now the 'loos' in rural China - that's a different story. Just close your eyes and...... eek.

  34. #34

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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">I had thought the reason that many of the toilets did not have toilet seats was because they had been vandalized and carried away. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
    I thought it had something to do with the subjection of women by men since men wouldn't care if a public toilet has a seat or not.

    I have to admit that a couple of times I've lowered a raised toilet seat in Italy so that I could sit on the toilet and do my business. I knew it would be safe since nobody else was sitting on it. And then afterwards I raised it so as to be polite to the next person.

  35. #35

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    Andrys - No, I'm not that marvelous person. I learned about her when I first googled my name. Please give her my regards and thank her for doing such credit to our name. :0)

  36. #36


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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by piccolina:
    I've gotten pretty good at... um... aiming from the heights. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
    That's how they get stinly and smelly and with spalshes all about (and pee runs down).
    And the work just great with trousers: roll them down to the knee, and squat all the way down. You will not be touching anything, don't worry: the balance and bone length of your legs will keep your bottom parts at just the right distance (and angle) from the floor and turkish toilet so that the products (be them liquid or solid) will fall exactly where they must fall and you will be getting far less splatters and trickles than yo would do otherwise.
    Now, girls, believe me: I have been using those for my whole life, and I would gladly have one installed in my bathroom because it's so [CENSORED] comfortable when you just seem not to be able to!

    Allison, I just do the opposite: I lift the seats so that I can squat downa little bit more. Whan I was younger and more supple I would also climb the pot and use it as a Turkish toilet (leaving my footprints on the rim). I had to sit in a public toilet two days ago as I was returning from the GTG (obviously I wrapped TP everywhere). This morning I woke up to a horrible cistytis : I blame it on having to sit on that toilet (and the cold and the too many hours ina car...)
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    There is also a toilet under the Vittorio Emmanuele Monument; it's on the right side of it if you are facing the front of the building. As I remember it was quite clean and free. Not wheelchair accessible though.
    I like the "flush and jump" Turkish toilets; you don't touch anything, and think about how many germs are already on your shoes anyway.
    Carry hand sanitiser and tissues anyway.

  38. #38


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    I have read this thread and ONLY Ember understands bad toilets.... China!!

    As a guy, we get a lot of better options than you women but the bathrooms we had to use at a GOVERNMENT RUN rest area on an interstate were so bad that we stood outside taking in deep breathes and ran into the bathroom holding our breath and aimed for the holes as best we could and as quickly as possible!! The womens toilet was so bad the women all opted to brave the tiny toilet on our bus!!

    When Judith was in Italy, she never complained about one toilet except for one in a bar in San Gimi.... she couldn't get out the door (actually it was funny but not to her at the time).

    Doug
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  39. #39
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">originally posted by Alice Twain: Whan I was younger and more supple I would also climb the pot and use it as a Turkish toilet (leaving my footprints on the rim). </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    ????? Hahahah, alright. You are obviously much more used to using these horrid bathrooms. And I agree that aim would be highly improved if I had this marvelous skill you do

    Speaking of China, Doug:

    I heard that all toilets there require the squatting position and that it is even acceptable for very young children to squat and do their business on the side of the road.... is this true? I've never been to China, but a friend of mine reported back on this strange custom in her many emails from abroad. Can anyone confirm/deny this myth?

  40. #40


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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by piccolina:
    [...] it is even acceptable for very young children to squat and do their business on the side of the road... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
    I do not know how are the toilets in China, but in Italy you may catch many children squatting by the side of the road (or in public gardens) for a quick pee (usually witht he assistance of a mother or granny or father etc.). That's fully natural and normal. As we say here, the children's pee is perfumed! Actually, on occasions I have been doing the same (a little more privately) if I was in a real hurry and had really no place in sight as an adult.
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Lynne Zielinski:
    Andrys - No, I'm not that marvelous person. I learned about her when I first googled my name. Please give her my regards and thank her for doing such credit to our name. :0) </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Oops. Thanks Lynne!

    - Andrys
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  42. #42

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    Just got back from Florence. In the underpass of the Firenze sml station, for .60 euro, there's a very clean sit-down type. The bathrooms in the station itself cost .70. I also experiment with coffee shops. Lots of them are nice. The turkish style? Look, when you gotta go, you gotta go. I never thought about the purpose of the bidet being to clean up after using a public toilet. I thought it was for shaving my legs in.

  43. #43

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    Here's the ticket: Go to www.travelsmith.com and look at the "Urinelle". It is a hygenic funnel for women; it enables you to stand above a hole-in-the-floor or questionable toilet...disposable and biodegradable..7 to a pack for $6.75.

  44. #44
    Alice Twain has done a great job (as usual) of giving the local side of the story. Let me just add a few little thoughts.

    - Toilet seats are missing because they are not conceived as permanent parts of the toilet; they are often made flimsier because it is expected they'll be replaced frequently (this is also true for homes); also Italian women don't sit down on strange toilets, which is why you find the seat up in the ladies' room even when there is a seat. Thus seats for public toilets are regarded as superfluous.

    - Turkish-style toilets are often perfectly clean and much more hygienic than sit-down ones. Alice has described the technique very well.

    - Definitely always carry a package of tissues.

    - Large hotels are usually good bets for a nice ladies' room in a central location.

  45. #45


    Slow Traveler

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    10,690
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Maureen B. Fant:
    Alice Twain has done a great job (as usual) of giving the local side of the story. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Maureen, I take this as a high praise from a travel expert. But I am a little bit worried about the fact that i seem to only be able to advice to the top of my possibility when talking about such honestly crappy subjects like toilets .
    Alice Twain
    --
    A Typesetter's day 3.0: Blog.

  46. #46


    Slow Traveler

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    An absent-minded professor I know in Italy once forgot his wife when she was using an autogrill toilet. He didn't notice her absence until several exits later on the autostrada.

    These people are divorced now, though that was not the only reason.

  47. #47


    Slow Traveler

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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">An absent-minded professor I know in Italy once forgot his wife when she was using an autogrill toilet. He didn't notice her absence until several exits later on the autostrada. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>



    Reminds me of one of my favorite movies, "Bread and Tulips".

  48. #48


    Slow Traveler

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    And of Baghdad cafe too.

    That story about the forgotten wife is one of the most common urban legends. An peculiarly Italian version has a dead granny being stolen at the Autogrill (with the whole casket!).
    Alice Twain
    --
    A Typesetter's day 3.0: Blog.

  49. #49


    Slow Traveler

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    True, it is a common urban legend, but I've heard slightly different versions of the story from the (now-ex) husband and wife themselves... and knowing the people in question I believe it.

  50. #50


    Slow Traveler

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    The Best Coast: The West Coast
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    Loved that movie "Bread and Tulips"!!!

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