Understanding Italian Culture | Toilet Basics
I could probably dedicate a whole book to my adventures with Italian bathrooms. It could almost become a game of ‘How do you flush this toilet?’ I have listed the most common types you will find, but always be prepared for anything.
Chain Pull: usually from the tank hanging just above the toilet, but can be off to the side
The One Button: located on the top or one of the sides, comes in various sizes
The Double Button: found on the wall next to the toilet, the small one is for little jobs and the big is for…well you get the idea
Foot Pedal Flush: found anywhere on the floor, this can also be how you turn the sink water on
The Push Up: a little lever hanging from the bottom of the overhanging tank
Bottomless Pit: just stand over the hole and aim, no flushing required and thigh workout included
Full Service: a self cleaning and flushing toilet that takes care of everything once you’ve left
The Bucket: a full bucket of water poured into the toilet, used for emergencies when the toilet paper tips are not followed
Public restrooms can be hard to find in Italy. Most are pay toilets, usually under 1 euro. Sometimes you will be giving your money to an actual person, other times inserting it into a machine. I find it is easier to march into a local bar acting like I own the place and go directly to the bathroom, usually located in the back or downstairs. If you feel guilty, just order an espresso and use the bathroom afterwards. Always take advantage of the restroom while dining.
Italians are skimpy in this department for a few reasons. The toilets and sewer systems simply can’t handle too much. They also think it is silly and wasteful the way most Americans (my family included) use a mitt of TP each time. Until my daughter was restrained, I had to use the above mentioned emergency flush to unplug several toilets. Flush twice to avoid embarrassing situations. The toilet paper itself leaves a bit to be desired, so don’t expect triple ply Charmin! If you are near the end of the supply you may have to ask for more from your host. I always carry a bit with me at all times in case the supply isn’t restocked right away and never use a public restroom without back up. They seem to be out most of the time.
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Copyright 2012 Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel