Seventy Years of Bathroom Experiences in Italy

After a year of  blogging fun  memories in Villa Lucia’s kitchen in Tuscany  I decided in  2015,  to share bimonthly some of my personal experiences in the bathrooms of Italy. This will be followed by bringing our readers into the bedrooms of Villa Lucia to share  experiences of our guests without using names.

Bathroom Toilets,  Tissues and Lights

In the late 40’s I visited my grandparents in Italy who as great land owners  were fortunate to be one of the few that had a bathroom indoors  out of their country home. As a child I found it to be a strange looking but having little choice had to accept the wooden seat with arm rest whose function may have been to prevent one from falling into the hole that would send the waste with pumped in water out into the countryside somewhere. It was similar to the picture of the old fashion wooden throne seat. Missing from this photo is the pile on the ledge near the wooden throne  of outdated daily newspapers that I later learned were to be used to clean oneself.  Paper was still a rare commodity in the 40’s in Italy.   Years later while traveling on a scholarship program  to Italy in the 60’s my mother reassured me bathrooms would now be  more available and modern.  But then why did she fill every little corner of my suitcase with American toilet tissue?

ba2afef39a9f05229aa1cf1faa7d75f8Newspaper for toilet

I ascertained the answer when traveling when  introduced  to various types of tissues, none of which resembled that which I was accustomed to in the States. There was the  slippery wax paper type, the thick hard to fold cardboard- like  paper and  the flimsy thin see through tissue requiring  many folds so as not to create a finger-breakthrough.  But nothing could compare with my memory of  the abrasive, rough sand paper type.  God forbid if not used gently for there would be no remedy for the resulting painful adult diaper rash.


Moving to Italy in the 80’s most  public buildings were required to have bathroom facilities. The problem now was to locate them which often led one down steep staircases to restaurant basements, not suitable for the handicapped and  often not well lite. After succeeding in the treasure hunt to relieve oneself there would be the problem of finding the light switch. Would it not be on the right wall? Well not always in Italy.  For those more fortunate,  electricity being  so expensive in Europe, one may find that the light is operated by an electric eye. If you wait and are able to  hold your bladder  for a few seconds the light will eventually come on. Unfortunately it may also go off before one finishes their business but a few swings with one’s  hands will signal your work is not done and the lights will go on again. The on and off neon glare is a polite suggestion not to linger  and to save electricity.  On the other hand, in America bathrooms are made so comfortable that one is encouraged to linger  such as in this American red neck pot.


It was not a problem for me until moving to Tuscany in the 90’s  when having to provide a urine sample for a doctor. Seeing the narrow one inch wide test tube that I was given to fill, I was wondering if I was mistaken to be a man or if it was some kind of joke. Nevertheless, not wanting to be difficult  preceded to the rest room with the narrow vial to fill.  Needless to say it was a very difficult ordeal but when the lights when off during my attempt it was not only impossible but also a messy situation in the unfamiliar dark room. My waving of my arms, begging for light spilled the vial which I had successfully half way filled and surely would be  unable to refill. The glaring neon lights shining on me as if caught in a crime revealed  the mess I had created in the dark. I felt as if  candid camera had found me in the bathroom, frightening  me to even use the facilities. While searching the stall for that hidden camera I noticed a small plastic cup on the ledge that was placed for me to use which would have been an easier way to fill then the 1 inch vial opening.


Traveling with my granddaughter Laila in 2014 I realized that Italy has come a long way from my days in the 40’s. We were surprised  to be able to experience  in Venice toilets made of 100% murano glass.

glass toilet bowl

Successful Truffle Hunt

Before starting our new season after a 5 month absense from Tuscany due to a family situation in California, I wish to note a wonderful group of fun attendees that ended our 2014 cooking week season.

For many the highlight was the day of our most successful truffle hunt, 500 grams of white truffle. Leaving Villa Lucia in a rain storm I thought the day would be cancelled. When arriving in San Miniato, not only did it stop raining but the ground prove to be suitable for the truffle hounds to sniff out the subterranean tuber fungus prized around the world as the “diamond of the kitchen”.  The  grounds were  muddy, slippery and rocky in areas making the walk through the woods difficult at times, yet the prize well worth the effort even if we were not rewarded monetarily.

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