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  1. #1
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    A few years ago when we visited the Veneto, I was very surprised to find Turkish toilets in most of the bars and trattorie we patronized. These were not in off-the-track places but in towns like Vicenza, Verona, Treviso, and Padua.

    We're now coming up on our 10th visit to Italy, and I've never encountered Turkish toilets anywhere else we've gone. But this time we are entering new territory for us, and I wonder if I should be prepared for this phenomenon in the areas we'll be visiting. We will be spending some time in Piemonte, and in Puglia, as well as the Cilento region of Campania.

    Please don't ask me what I want to do to be prepared ... I guess I just want to have some idea what to expect, because it came as quite a shock in the Veneto.

    - Roz

    [Edited to clarify subject]

  2. #2
    Roz...What is a Turkish toilet?

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    I was wondering the same thing.

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    Heh. It's been a while since we've had a toilet thread. Here are some prior discussons--
    Public Bathrooms in Italy
    And the (in)famous Things About Italy I Don't Understand (aka the "toilet and bidet thread")

    For the uninitiated, a "turk" is a toilet without a seat, just a ceramic basin in the floor with footrests at each side and a flushing mechanism. In the above threads, Alice will show her expertise.

    And yes Roz, I encountered a few in Piemonte, surprisingly enough even in a pleasant restaurant in the hills.
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  5. #5
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    They're basically holes in the floor in which you can do your business while squatting, with places for your feet on either side.



    My only encounter with one was in the Lucca train station.

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    Yeah, Amy! The toilet-and-bidet thread is one of my all-time favourites!

    Roz, the very first so-called "turk" toilet I encountered in Italy was in San Gimignano, but I've also come across these in Florence. So, you may find them almost anywhere.

    (Curiously, I think I only ever saw one of these in Turkey.)

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  7. #7

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    I've run across them in Japan and China but never seen them in Italy. Maybe in Italy they only put them in the ladies rooms

    By the way, most of the world population uses toilets like the turk. When these people first encounter our western toilets they often climb up on the seat and squat there.
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    Roz - There are plenty of Turkish toilets to go around all over Italy. I have not kept track, but I'm never surprised to see one; particularly in a train station or the like. I think I've encountered them in just about every region I've visited. So how DO you plan on preparing for this?

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    We call them "flush-and-jump" toilets!
    I have seen them all over Italy,mainly in train stations; and in Paris in a cafe once; and of course in Turkey.

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    Roz,
    My husband calls them 'footies'.
    LOL...I guess you could prepare by doing some leg work....lunges...leg presses.....
    We've found them all over Europe. I'm usually grateful to find any toilet when necessity calls. They are a little daunting for big business.....

  11. #11
    I encountered a Turkish toilet during a stop on the Cinque Terre trail. After all those steps on trail my legs burned!

    If you think you many encounter one of these lovely objects it is best to wear a skirt or dress. Guys just be glad you can stand!

  12. #12


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    My first encounter with them was in Paris when I was a student there in the 60's...oddly enough I don't remember them in in Istanbul when we were there earlier this year...

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    Originally posted by Patrick, Arkansas:
    By the way, most of the world population uses toilets like the turk. When these people first encounter our western toilets they often climb up on the seat and squat there.
    Actually, occasionally I do the squat thing even if I grew up with WC. The squatting posizion is so much more comfortabile for such things!
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    If you think you many encounter one of these lovely objects it is best to wear a skirt or dress.
    Well, that actually is one reason I was wondering how ubiquitous they are in the regions we are going. It might affect what I choose to pack. For a woman who is not skilled in - ahem - assuming the position, it is a lot easier not to have to deal with pants.

    I wouldn't be surprised to encounter them in public toilets, especially in less-touristed areas, or places like train stations throughout Italy. But it really was a surprise to find that they seemed to be the norm in restaurants (at least the trattorie where we ate) in fairly large cities of the Veneto, which is an area of Italy that seems reasonably affluent.

    - Roz

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    Wrong. Pants are much easier. Just keep in mond, you have to squat all the way. If you wear pants, just poush them at kneel level and squat all the way: they will be automatically put off your way. The skirt, instead, will easily slip into your... Range of water!
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    It is curious to see how fascinating the subjects of toilets is. I am on a garden forum and the subject of outhouses came up once and that discussion, now years old, never ends. Why? One of life's mysteries.

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    really, they can be anywhere; I am still surprised by some of the places I see/use them.
    I'm with Alice, pants are easier - skinny pants/jeans are best cos they don't puddle (teehee) on the floor!

    ok, personal info now...I never sit in [a] public [toilet] anyway so it's not a problem!

    I guess I should add (more personal info) - I don't even sit in my own home from Nov - March either cos it's just too darn cold!

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    The unisex toilet at Oscari Ristorante in Monte Santa Maria Tiberina was turkish style back in '99. Last time there ('05), however, they'd "upgraded" to standard seating and separated men from women.

    ...they're going the way of phone booths and cigarette machines...still common in China, but not so much in ex-pat areas.

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    So since we are on the fascinating subject of toilets and how to use them have you ever seen the Italian toilets (usually public) without a seat, but with an unusually wide oversize porcelain rim? One of my most delightful bagno experiences was in the public bagno below Piazza degla Signoria in Spoleto this summer. One of the stalls had one of these, but I surmise that a previous user did not want to lower their heiney onto the porcelain so they decided to make a Turkish out of it - judging by the sneaker prints on the rim and the resulting mess all over the back of the room. I'm outta here!

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    My thought on looking at the picture on Kim's post was that how gleamingly clean it was - unfortunately, I have never come across one in that lovely condition!

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    squat all the way
    Easy for you to say, Alice -- some of us are physically unable to do this!

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    Originally posted by Patrick, Arkansas:
    By the way, most of the world population uses toilets like the turk. When these people first encounter our western toilets they often climb up on the seat and squat there.
    Is this ever true. On our flights to and from China several years ago the bathrooms had pictures of people squatting with their feet on the toilet seat inside a big red circle with the slash, as in "don't do this." The signs didn't do the trick and within about an hour the bathrooms were all disgusting messes. The remaining 13 hours were painful!
    ellen

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    And my grandson has a photo of a similar sign in a men's room at a San Francisco Chinese restaurant! It really resonated with his then 14 yr old sense of humor, once we explained why.

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    There are indeed some advantages to being a man.

    I have seen these things in Genoa and a few other places. I'm not sure what I would do if I had anything (ummmm) "serious" to do.

    I guess they really make a lot of sense. A lot more sanitary. Also in Genoa, I saw a toilet with UV lighting. It seemed like I was in some kind of scifi alien laboratory (yes laboratory not lavatory)

    OK don't get me started with the bidet and the close calls I have had there, getting up in the middle of the night.

  25. #25


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    Originally posted by Matt D.:
    So since we are on the fascinating subject of toilets and how to use them have you ever seen the Italian toilets (usually public) without a seat, but with an unusually wide oversize porcelain rim? One of my most delightful bagno experiences was in the public bagno below Piazza degla Signoria in Spoleto this summer. One of the stalls had one of these, but I surmise that a previous user did not want to lower their heiney onto the porcelain so they decided to make a Turkish out of it - judging by the sneaker prints on the rim and the resulting mess all over the back of the room. I'm outta here!
    Yuck!

    Actually it is gabinetto or toilette (I think). I got a surprising number of quizzical looks then I used bagno (which is actually) bath (I think). Some people knew right away what I meant but for some, I would need to use one of the other words in order to find the proper facilities.

  26. #26
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    Roz, I never knew what Turkish toilets were but I encountered much less sophicated toilets than the one Kim shared, in campgrounds in Italy. Of course that was early 1970's when we camped there. (Many of those campgrounds were in very rural areas and they were free). They were basically holes in the ground in a closet like space. (Would that be considered a turkish toilet?) It was a difficult maneuver for me then. I can't even imagine how I'd manage now. Barb Cabot

  27. #27


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    I think of them as like peeing in the woods with a hole and porcelain!

    I used one in a bar in Modena this summer. I didn't run into any in Piemonte but this trip but think I might have during my last visit. After a while, I only remember the most disgusting or unique bathrooms.

    Barb, that might have been just a version of an outhouse.

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    An alternative would be to put on diapers every morning. Then when you encounter one of these toilets, you would have some options.

  29. #29


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    Spinnaker,
    actually bagno stands for "stanza da bagno" but nobody I know uses the long version.

    I always use the word Bagno or toilet, and never had a problem anywhere, maybe it was the pronunciation?

    About the turkish toilets.

    In myexperience, only old public places that have never been renovated have them, the last recent places in which I saw them are campings. At least campings in Marche have them.

    They are ugly, but gotta admit, they are more efficient -when well kept and continuously cleaned- the camping area where we used to go in Marche, had a water hose connected continuously, so if a mess was made the guy would just wash it down to the hole.

    However, I prefere to use the "normal "ones, but I don't sit on them in public places, ever. Mom tought us that that is the dirtiest place on earth, squat but not too low.

    Matt D, sometimes the owners of restaurants or public places don't have a word on which porcelain to use.There are regional laws that give you a range of vases to use, depending if you are going to have a separate bathroom for disabled people or not.
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  30. #30


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    A reminder that we have a small selection of toilets in Slow Photos.
    We could do with a few more.

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  31. #31


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    Here's one I encountered in San Caterina, Mazzorbo, Veneto. It was spotless and I was very happy to find it!

    [Edited to reduce photo size]
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2351023964_Italy_396.jpg  

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    These toilets are very common in Asian countries and airports.

    We call them pit toilets because they are literally 'the pits' to use!

    In Asia, there is no flush system with them, just a hose and water gets all over the place, so you also have to negotiate the puddles.

    You are also not supplied with toilet paper, and if you use paper, you are requested to place it in a bin, not in the toilet itself. Something to do with the sewerage systems, I guess.

    I've also seen them in Italy and was quite surprised to find them in a western civilised country.

    Elly

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    in most cases, the bins are not provided for TP as well as for "female needs". While out sewers are usually good enough to swallow a piece of soft paper that usually goes in rags the very moment it hits water, tampons and sanitary napkins (?) are consistent, made mostly of plastic or other non-environment-friendly materials and extremely long-lasting. Not putting them in the toilet helps not only keeping the pluming of the building in a better state, but also helps keep the whole world in a better state. If you also opt for a menstrual cup its even better because you can reuse the same cup for several years.
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  34. #34


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    ...This thread is becoming gross ...
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  35. #35
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    quote:
    Originally posted by Patrick, Arkansas:
    By the way, most of the world population uses toilets like the turk. When these people first encounter our western toilets they often climb up on the seat and squat there.

    Is this ever true. On our flights to and from China several years ago the bathrooms had pictures of people squatting with their feet on the toilet seat inside a big red circle with the slash, as in "don't do this." The signs didn't do the trick and within about an hour the bathrooms were all disgusting messes. The remaining 13 hours were painful!

    I don't wish on my worst enemy the experience of taking a CAAC flight in the early days. But : no wonder all those shoe prints on the toilet seats!

    Off topic:
    And reading all the effort of speaking English by the recent Olympics host reminds me of a sign I saw in the restroom of tea house in Kunming, albeit in perfect English: "DON'T SH*T HERE".
    [URL=http://www.paris-update.com/fr/hot-topics/cest-ironique/22268-yet-more-paris-shop-signs-from-the-ridiculous-to-the-sublimely-ridiculous-part-11]"…as Ernest Hemingway said in the first draft of his memoir, ‘Paris is an unimprovable feast of idiot

  36. #36
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    This thread is becoming gross
    I am sorry, because I started it, and I really didn't intend it to become so graphic. All I wanted to find out was whether restaurants in Piemonte, southern Campania, and Puglia are likely to have Turkish toilets -- because I was surprised to find them common in the Veneto. A couple of people have commented on Piemonte, but I still haven't had a real answer to my question. Maybe I should change the topic of the thread to be more specific.

    - Roz

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    and I really didn't intend it to become so graphic.
    But were you really surprised?

    To answer your Puglia part: we've found turkish toilets in a few small bars, and in one of the autostrada reststops (one that was being refurbished) - but otherwise the facilities have all been more 'modern'.

    Jonathan

  38. #38


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    Roz,

    I was just joking!!

    It is gross, but not that much, I have seen worse!

    It has become very graphical, yes!

    Now I can take away of my head the image of Alice squat....never mind
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  39. #39


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    Originally posted by Alice Twain:
    in most cases, the bins are not provided for TP as well as for "female needs". While out sewers are usually good enough to swallow a piece of soft paper that usually goes in rags the very moment it hits water, tampons and sanitary napkins (?) are consistent, made mostly of plastic or other non-environment-friendly materials and extremely long-lasting. Not putting them in the toilet helps not only keeping the pluming of the building in a better state, but also helps keep the whole world in a better state. If you also opt for a menstrual cup its even better because you can reuse the same cup for several years.
    OMG!!

  40. #40


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    Originally posted by lesfaye:
    OMG!!
    I just bought one. It's comfy (once you learn how to wear it)!
    Alice Twain
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  41. #41


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    Ok, definitely too ghraphic...

    Ok, no I can't stop seying in my head Alice that...NEVERMIND!!!
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  42. #42
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    TMI !
    [URL=http://www.paris-update.com/fr/hot-topics/cest-ironique/22268-yet-more-paris-shop-signs-from-the-ridiculous-to-the-sublimely-ridiculous-part-11]"…as Ernest Hemingway said in the first draft of his memoir, ‘Paris is an unimprovable feast of idiot

  43. #43


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    Too Much Info?
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  44. #44
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    Too Much Info?
    Correct! And I agree, TMI!

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    Well I think Alice's method is a far better option that seeing that type of waste in the bin alongside the toilet, which is what I have discovered in Asian countries.

    On the other hand, I am glad that I am now past the age of having to use such items.

    Elly

  46. #46
    Ok, to clarify for Piemonte:

    You will find Turkish Toilets occasionally. More often than not you will find normal toilets. But don't be surpised if you see one, especially in smaller towns and villages.

  47. #47
    I have found them in older restaurants in large cities - IE Florence and Lucca

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    wow - this thread is SO interesting :-) seriously!

    I was a student in Padova some years ago (ok...over 10) and was in TOTAL culture shock to arrive at my dorm and find I would be using a turkish toilet (down the hall - two for the entire floor of women)for my entire stay there! Always surprised me to see the well-dressed women in their fur coats using the facilities in very upscale bars without "proper" toilets :-) I got used to it and hadn't really thought any more about it. Turkish toilets were (are?) pretty much the Veneto norm now that I think of it.

    Ww now have a little house in a WAY-off-the-beaten-path town in Campania...not a pit toilet to be seen...I've been in every restaurant and bar in town...not one. (come to think of it, don't think I've ever encountered one in Campania...although, sometimes I wish they were there instead of what you find at some of the autogrills in the south!) I didn;t know if it was progress over the decade...or a cultural Veneto thing :-) Will have to go back to PAdova and check it out!

  49. #49

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    they're called turkish toilets..???
    WOW learn something new every day..
    i always called them a squat pot...
    My introduction to them was in San Gimi...
    and then Cinque Terre

    I'm going to Turkey next year...oh man, is this what I'm in for???

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    Musetta and others,

    Thanks for your insights ... it is very interesting that according to what people have posted, there doesn't appear to be any other part of Italy where Turkish toilets are so common as I found them in the Veneto. The preconception might be that you would be more likely to find them in the South as opposed to the more affluent North, but obviously this is an untrue sterotype!

    - Roz

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