With little Culture Shock, It’s easy for Americans to quickly slide into the relaxing pace and enjoy the history, food, and culture of Italy. There are, however, just a few things that give first-timers a little shock-and-oh! After growing up in America and marrying an Italian, I’ve come to love all the things that make Italy so unique.
11 Tips for Americans Traveling to Italy
What follows is a list of things that surprised me the first time I encountered them in Italy. Let’s be cheeky and start within the buff stuff.
Bathrooms in Italy
More specifically, your hotel, B&B, AirBNB or host’s home. Now close the door, it’s about to get personal.
1. Showers in Italy Are Small
In Europe, bathtubs are less common and showers are usually tiny corner stalls. The kind one must squeeze into sideways and close two doors together to form a claustrophobic, watertight corner. Men will bash elbows while washing pits. Ladies shaving long legs, practice your Flamingo, it’s Shower Yoga Time.
2. Italian Bathrooms Have Bidets
Why so small? Blame the bidet. Hotel and homes alike in Europe have standalone bidets which hog space. Are you supposed to mount it, sit on it, turn the tap on with your arms behind your back… what!? If you’re a person who prepares ahead of time here’s your primer. It’s a quirky thing to use the first time, butt it’s worth a try. Sorry, couldn’t resist getting cheeky! Speaking of Cheeks.
3. Small Towels In Italian Bathrooms
In American most hotel’s provide wash cloths. Not so much In Europe. So if your Hotel provides a towel, smaller than a bath towel, but larger than a wash cloth, check to see if there is a towel rack or hook next to the bidet…. are you with me now? That towel is for your other cheeks. I’m sure the hotel has done an exemplary job on their laundry and that towel could be used for your face, butt… if the last traveler was European, they probably used it on the correct cheeks. Just saying!
4. Most Italian Hotels Do Not Provide Toiletries
Missing toiletries is not the mark of a bad hotel in Italy. 5 Stars, you’re probably bubble bathing in them, but for the average traveler on a deal, forget it. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find rip-n-squeeze “wash” packet, but that’s likely it. So pack a little or hit the market when you land.
5. Public Bathrooms In Italy
At some point, you’re going to squirm and scout a bathroom in public, here are a few quick “I Told You Sos!”
6. Pay to Pee in Public Bathrooms
When sprinting for a public loo, be prepared to hand an attendance €0.50. Pocket your change after lunch. It’s ok, Gratuity is included and additional tipping is not expected in Italy.
7. Bathrooms in Italian Coffee Shops
Bathrooms are for customers only, especially in Italy. 1€ buys you a welcoming wave in answer to “dov’è il bagno?” Just act casual and always order your Coffee first.
8. Unisex Bathrooms in Italian Gas Stations
If driving don’t skip Italy’s Gas Stations, they are magically amusing. Food actually looks good and aisles are filled with tons of kid’s toys, culinary gifts and… porn mags. As you make your dash for the back. If you do not see a male/female sign, it’s unisex. Ladies you just might have to pee in a stall next to a dude. Wonder if Governor Pat McCrory has ever been to Italy?
9. No Toilet Seat in Italy’s Public Bathrooms
Once in the stall, toilet seat are rare. It’s weird and yes uncomfortable but hey, it’s probably easier to clean right? Besides in public, hopefully, you don’t need long.
10. Public Bathrooms in Italy Without a Toilet
In older areas and restaurants, there are a few bathrooms in Italy, where a floor pan build into the ground is still in use. Even Italians roll their eyes at this one. That’s just one of the charms of Italy though. Not everything is modern and for some, that’s just fine.
11. Mass Tourism Bathrooms in Italy
Just hold it right there, really? This is Pompeii! Google me this, on a recent trip to Pompeii, I was left thinking… “wait they got 26€ from us, there are thousands of people here, on a rainy day and the bathrooms are like this!?” Turns out, there are now serious inquiries into the improper management of Pompeii. For one of the most important and intimate archeological sites in the world the number of fenced off areas and complete lack of a handle on bathroom stall doors, let alone toilet seats is downright shocking. I’m not saying don’t go, just plan ahead if you are a squeamish pee’r.
Now least I sound all negative, let’s bring this back into perspective. As an American, this is about the only Culture Shocking you’ll find. Not bad right! It’s just subtle cultural differences that are fun to experience and get to post home about.
Besides, I’ll take a mini fridge stocked with 7€ bottles of wine over a free bar of soap any day. So get packing and check back tomorrow for Part 2 and find out why Italian hotels offer 7€ bottles of wine!