I promised I'd never lower myself to blogging about the state of Italian toilets but I'm afraid I've lowered myself over one too many holes in the ground to hold back any longer. And that's part of the problem: being pregnant means that (a) I always need to pee and (b) I CAN'T hold back. Take note: a hole in the ground with two handily marked foot prints is absolutely not more hygenic and, as evidence strongly suggests, is not easier to clean either. Basta. Nobody wants their nose that close to the ground while they're having a wee. If you're a man and you're not bothered, then well done - but watch out, you're bound to be caught out needing a number 2 sooner or later.
When there is an actual toilet, there is inevitably no sign of the toilet seat. Even here we are forced to hovering. If you have the thighs of Usain Bolt then again, well done. If not, then you get that quivering leg quake which leads to you either leaping up and not finishing your business, or crashing down on a toilet bowl liberally sprayed with urine. What's wrong with toilet seats? I salute the humble toilet seat. Italian rubbish dumps must be full of mournful stacks of brand new, never-sat-on toilet seats. Btw, for a nation that would rather give up the Pope than relinquish their blessed bidets, Italians have some fairly filthy bathroom habits. Of course nobody admits to being the one who peed all over the toilet and the floor and who scattered loo roll here and there like confetti (and I'm talking about the Ladies here). But then, nobody admits to voting for Berlusconi either.
My ever-wise (and English) mother-in-law put the situation in perspective the other day. I was bemoaning the fact that the only public toilets in Italy with baby changing tables are in out-of-town Ikea. What do Italian mothers do? My conclusion is they don't leave the house until their child is potty trained (around 8 years old here, about the same time they move out of their parents' bed) (sorry, I'm getting catty now..). Mother-in-law nodded patiently and told me that when she moved to Milan 40-odd years ago, you were hard pushed to find ANY public toilets and when you found one it was always a hole in the ground. Crikey.
I'm not saying other countries are better because they have public toilets with locks on the doors, reams of loo roll, hot running water to wash your hands and baby changing facilities (God bless John Lewis in Southampton, they even have a room for feeding infants and baby bottle warmers). I also know that there are much uglier problems in the world, but pretty soon my tummy will be so big that once I've lowered myself over a hole in the ground, I won't be able to get back up again. It happened towards the end of my last pregnancy in a bar in Florence. Took me ages to get out of that bathroom and I'd only popped out to go to the supermarket.