Thursday, November 29, 2012


One of the earliest posts I wrote on this blog, back in 2006, was partly about the public conveniences - or lack of them - in Modica and the condition of the facilities that did exist, mostly in bars, at that time. Four years later, I wrote this for Italy Magazine.  I'm glad to say that the toilet seat situation has improved since then but there are still institutions and establishments that stubbornly prefer the seatless toilet because it is thought to be more hygienic. The owners or managers of these premises may like to take a look at this article from the BBC.

In that early blog post, I said that bar staff in Italy as a whole are understanding if passers-by just need to use the bathroom but this is changing and in larger cities like Catania or other tourist spots you are now likely to see notices informing you that you are expected to buy something if you want to use the facilties. This does not bother me as I don't mind paying  €0.80 for a coffee if I need to use the loo but I do suffer from a Brit's sense of bewilderment at the absence of public conveniences - you know, easily accessible toilets that are just toilets.

The British, who, as the outcomes of recent EU summits have shown, consider themselves "different" from the rest of Europe, tend to believe that the public convenience issue proves it and have openly wondered for over a century whether their Latin neighbours have stronger bladders.

Well, I can tell my fellow-countrymen tonight that I have solved the mystery: having dared to ask an Italian colleague today why we didn't purchase better quality toilet paper for the school, I was met with an expression of pure horror and the response,

"But people go to the toilet at home!"


Lee said...

I hate public toilets; I abhor them; and I never, never go near them! I can't remember the last time I paid a visit (unpaid or paid for) to a public loo.

I must have a Latin bladder! ;)

Claude said...

Until I reached a certain age, (I mean old, old age) I never used a public toilet. I always had disdain and felt a lack of privacy in them. Now I'm grateful to find out that we do have some very satisfactory ones in Toronto, specially in fancy restaurants. But I so dislike having to use them sometimes.

I wonder what young children and senior people do in your part of the world. It's such a necessity when you shop or eat out.

Rosaria Williams said...

Of course! All Italian mothers warn their children to empty their bladders before facing the world!

Diane Cacciato said...

I was baffled by the lack of seats on toilets so thank you for explaining that. I was surprised by the ubiquitous lack of toilet paper so I started carrying tissue with me. I think toilets can be challenging and interesting whenever you travel. The first time I was in Japan and saw what I later called "the porcelain canoe" I was shocked and had no idea how to use it!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Lee. I try to avoid them too. Yes, you must have! Hi, Claude. I know exactly what you mean! I think everybody here has stronger bladders, regardless of age! Hi, Rosaria. Ah, that's the secret, then! Hi, Diane. Goodness me, I am going to have to google Japanese loos now! Love your name for it.

Laura said...

I hate them too but have used one in every town in the 50 States as well as all over Europe. I think my husband finally believed that my frequent stops were truly needed when I was willing to use a squat toilet in which no one had hit the hole in for a very long time!

The lack of toilet seats is inconvenient - but I carry tissue with me - layer it on the rim and then hope to sit down before the paper all blows off the narrow edge!

Perhaps a bit too much info...?

Hawkins Family said...

I always try to ask a local if they know of a bar that supplies toilet paper! I never just "happen" to have a roll on me. Seatless toilets work wonders for thigh and bum toning though :)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Laura. You've been to every town in the States? Wow! Had a good laugh at your story- thank you. Hi, Hawkins Family. I hadn't thought of that particular advantage!

Laura said...

Yes, that was poorly written - I have been to every state, and therefore toilets in towns in every state...or some such thing!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Laura. Oh, I get it now! Still an achievement to have visited every state.


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