Finding a Toilet in Italy

Exploring an exotic new place is wonderful and fascinating – until you need a toilet. Then the strangeness can be intimidating, and cause delays at the worst possible moment.

Italy doesn’t have many public toilets. You will find them in the larger railway stations. Expect to pay, e.g. 70 euro cents in Milan’s Central Station. This is a good thing, because it means that an attendant is constantly on duty, keeping those bathrooms clean. In smaller railway stations, there is almost always a little building with bathrooms at one end of the platform; these are usually squatters, cleanliness is variable, and don’t expect to find toilet paper (when travelling anywhere in the world, I usually carry packs of tissues for bathroom use).

If you’re travelling by car, any highway gas station and rest stop restaurant/bar will of course have toilets. These, too, are usually attended and clean although they are often unheated! You should leave a tip for the attendant, 50 cents to one euro.

When you’re walking around a city or town, finding a toilet is a little trickier. Very occasionally you will find public toilets maintained by the city; cleanliness is highly variable.

My usual solution is to go into a (coffee) bar, use the toilet, and then buy something – cup of coffee, glass of mineral water or, if I’m really not thirsty, a pack of gum. Using the toilet without being a paying customer would be rude, though you can get away with it without incurring anyone’s wrath if you’ve got a small child or an obvious emergency.

Be aware, however, that many bars, especially smaller ones, only have a squat toilet. These are more hygienic because the only part of you that touches the toilet is your shoes. However, it takes good knees, balance, and some practice not to pee on your own feet.

Add your own Italian toilet tips.

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