Friday, December 26, 2014


I'm wondering what it might mean that, of my current 160 posts, the one about Italian toilets has gotten three times as many "hits" as any other. (See  THE ITALIAN TOILET:A CHALLENGE TO YANKEE INGENUITY...        ) And this is even with my having shown just a fraction of my collection of documenting photos. Maybe it's time for some of them to see the light of day, and to offer a comparative study with those of a tiny country located a 7-hour drive from here--one whose facilities, among other attractions, make Slovenia well worth a detour.

Never mind my previous pieces about potentially knock-your-block off sloping ceilings (See WELCOME TO SLOVENIA--A KNOCK-OUT COUNTRY! ). 

Much of the country looks like the happy moments in a fairy tale.

 And don't get me started on the fabulous food.

This is the view of the Julian Alps from the inn where we stay

Winter sunrises can be especially colorful

This is the view from a beautiful apartment in the center of town

Yet, when it comes to practicality, Slovenia shows itself to be a place where things work. Maybe the small example of their no-nonsense toilets is a metaphor for bigger things. I'll offer a few examples, and you be the judge.

This is a frequently encountered sign in Italy. It's not clear when this facility will be back in operation, but I'm guessing that the answer is not in my lifetime. 

I came upon this very clean toilet in our local hospital. It seems to have all the necessary hardware, but I can't tell if the seat cover is taking a break on its way on, or off. This is because in my adopted country, many seem to feel that a toilet WITHOUT a seat is more sanitary than one that has a seat. 

This is actually from a different hospital than the previous photo, but the thinking with respect to the desirability of having an attached seat seems to be the same. 

Now this alcove in the Palazzo Davanzati shows the height of toilet technology in a Florentine Renaissance home --a private, purpose-built indoor space, much more attractive than the latrines we had at Girl Scout Camp, or those open-air benches with a hole poised over the medieval castle moat, which must have been a bit breezy in winter.

The next three photos are from the hospital at Terni where my husband received WONDERFUL care. But during the long wait, I had plenty of time to check out their public restroom, which held a few surprises. For example, this bidet!

There was a nice dispenser that looked ready to hold something. Maybe paper?

Ever wonder what would happen if you pulled one of these strings?

This piece of equipment on the left had me really perplexed.  A urinal? A drinking fountain? What if you guessed wrong?

The good thing about this dispenser which is in the public restroom at the facility where the family doctors see patients is that it actually had something in it. But doesn't it look in need of a bit of First Aid, itself?

Although the facility itself is called a walk-in clinic, nobody gets to just walk into this restroom. As the sign somewhat cryptically says, "Due to some people who have no manners, you need to ask one of the doctors for the key." Hmm... and what if one of those ill-mannered people abused the space? Well, maybe if only one person had asked for the key that day, it might be known which culprit should not be trusted to use this restroom. 

And now on to Slovenia!
Because we have family there, we visit Slovenia often, and have a favorite place to stay that feels like home, but with better functioning toilets. Below are toilets that work in ways that would not confound an unsuspecting American. Note that both of these have seats and that these seats are attached. Further, that the seat is a cheerful turquoise is a nice touch.

To my surprise, this restaurant toilet featured some educational reading material. It's true that not everyone is fluent in Slovene, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Some members of my very own family cannot go into a restroom without some reading material in hand, but this seemed an unexpected place for advertising. It seems safe to say that capitalism has definitely made it to this formerly communist country.

And now on to our favorite place to stay when we visit this village. It, too, has some surprising features, but while eccentric, they are mostly the good kind.

Our bathroom comes sanitized with pride.

And while compact, everything here, right down to the footprints on the mat, is just my size.

A towel that fits like a glove? What are the chances?

Now hygiene is one thing, but I couldn't figure out why we'd need a toilet cover dispenser of our very own.

And I've never seen a door to a toilet that said "WC" on the INSIDE. But no matter.  This place has everything you need. So what if it has a few extras that you DON'T need?

OK. Now we will end our Slovene toilet tour with a visit to the facilities at a very high-class restaurant in cosmopolitan Ljubljana, Slovenia's MOLTO cool capital city.

Never having seen such dazzlingly sculptural toilet accoutrements,  I did not trust myself to get a good photograph to document this. But if you're lucky enough to have a daughter-in-law who is a professional photographer, you can get some great shots like these.

Next stop: the restrooms of a famous American Ivy League institution.

Never mind that "Certo" sounds like a very agreeable Italian word. This gizmo, which emits strange buzzing and squirting noises, adorns the walls of bathrooms in the Health Center. When I first heard these sounds, I didn't know what to think. Is there a ghost in here? But it seems that the Certo machine, at regular intervals (irrespective of what's going on in the room, or who is in there), spritzes the room with some type of perfume. Different bathrooms in the building can have different scents. I wonder who gets to choose?  

There ought to be a prize for the person who can figure out why the entire bank of toilets in this college restroom have water that's tinted like this. Hint: It's the weekend of the Harvard-Yale football game, when these arch rivals will stop at nothing to dump on the opposing team's school. Harvard's color is, of course, crimson!

My mother--the one who asked me to stop writing about insects--is sure to tell me BASTA with the toilets. Of course she's right!

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