Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Plumbing in Italy
The early Roman engineers were simply amazing! Many of their bridges and aqueducts still stand in parts of Italy and all across Europe over two thousand years after their construction. Indeed, their handiwork stands atop most tourists' sightseeing lists, including the Coliseum. Their descendents continued this great tradition of design, giving us an incredible network of sewers, wells, and fountains to meet the needs of the public. That said, you have to wonder what happened in later years, for "modern" Italian plumbing is a marvel to marvel at, in wonderment and amazement, as you ask yourself, "What were they thinking?"
The Public ToiletSomething that is hard to find in most cities. In many places (such as along the Autostrade) it will be attended by a matron who sits in a chair near the entrance, glaring at a small saucer filled with coins and a few crumpled lira (remember now, that at 1500 lire to the dollar, Italian coins have a real value about half what those toy coins in your Monopoly set are worth). There is usually a charge of 500 lira for the "privilege" of using these facilities. Unfortunately, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the presence of an attendant and the cleanliness and adequacy of these facilities: if attended, the washroom is less likely to have paper or decent paper; less likely to have a real commode, instead it might have a hole in the floor with a place outlined for you feet. Even at the Vatican, there were nice red geraniums on the washstand, but there was sawdust on the floor beneath the sink to absorb the dripping water!
Prior to our trip, I read an on-line travel journal that mentioned the McDonald's in Rome, adjacent to the Spanish Steps. As a matter of fact, he raved about the cleanliness of the facilities and something he called the McWash. This we wanted
In the town of Arezzo, in Tuscany not far from the border of Umbria, we encountered what appeared to be a modern, high-tech public toilet. The International Pictographs of a Man and Woman with the letters "WC" directed us to a door. Once inside, we were confronted with a machine similar to those that dispense subway or train tickets in many cities. Fortunately the text was in several languages, and after a few false starts, I determined that the entry fee was L500. Then a stainless steel
Intellectual curiosity led me to press each button: First, I discovered the one button that dispensed toilet paper provided a voluminous two sheets per push. Then, I pressed the button beside a downward arrow, and lo and behold, the toilet flushed.
Once I exited the chamber, I spotted a traditional sink, soap, and pile of paper towels, which seemed to tell me that while some portions of the High Tech Toilet are 20th century, apparently there are still a few bugs in the system.
The ShowerThen there is that common bathroom fixture, the shower (or doccia). In Italian hotels, they commonly come in three varieties:
Public toilet map : Map of public toilets in Florence and the surrounding area. The map also provides open hours and dates, restroom features (accessible, changing tables, etc), and price.
The following essay appeared in a now defunct website: In A Sense, Abroad: A Traveler’s Experiences of Italy that was originally published in 1996. The site later expanded as a book entitled Piazzas and Pizzas: Adventures of the Clean Plate Club in Italy, with many wry observations about life in Bella Italia. The lira has given way to the Euro and there have been some advances in plumbing, but many of these citations still ring true.
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