Question re: proper clothing/shoes for Italy's Public Toilets

We are travelling to Italy this summer and keep reading about a lot of clothing and shoe requirements and are wondering if these issues will affect our ability to use public toilets in Italy. My partner has a small bladder, and I am worried that if I develop a prostate problem at some point before we leave, I may have to rethink the clothing I am bringing to account for my possible increased use of public toilets.

It seems that everyone dresses in high-cost designer clothing and shoes in Italy - so really, I am assuming that I will not be allowed in the public toilets unless I have on, say, an Armani suit with the appropriate footwear to match? Also, now my partner is looking at a lot of Gucci, Fendi, etc. clothing, handbags and shoes, and it may be the case she will spend all of our significant vacation funds on these items and while she will be well-dressed, we'll have to sleep in parks in tents. This brings up another issue then: if we have to sleep in public parks in tents, how much luggage can we bring, and what has to be in it? It's going to be extremely difficult to fit both designer clothing and something comfortable in the Official Rick Steve's Clothing Satchel on a Stick, so I'm thinking if we want to actually go to Italy, sleep in parks in tents AND use public toilets, we'll have to just stick with the one outfit of extremely high-priced Italian designer clothing and shoes because that is all that will fit in our Official Rick Steve's Clothing Satchel on a Stick. This might be helpful in that at least my partner won't have to buy so much designer clothing as we won't have room for it.

Back to my original question: Oh wait, I have another question: I have also read that I shouldn't buy anything blue for Italy, because that color may indicate that I've spent time in prison, and then I'll be stopped a lot on the streets by the police to look at my passport and etc. to check and see if I am on probation or whatever - is this true? Wouldn't the fact that I am wearing my Armani kind of avoid this even if it's blue?

Also, I really prefer not to wear those skinny Italian shoes (especially for the hike, see below) and I won't have room in my Official Rick Steve's Clothing Satchel on a Stick, so I am wondering whether or not I can get into the public toilets with big white sneakers on, as long as they cost, say, more than $200? If so, how can I indicate how much they cost? Do I put a sign on them? If so, does the sign have to be in Italian and English or is just English ok?

OK, NOW back to my original question: I really want to get this public toilet thing out of the way because I want to make sure I have full access to public toilets. The reason for this is we have 6 FULL NIGHTS in Italy, and right now, our itinerary has us seeing Rome on the way to the train station to take a train immediately to Florence, and then see the major hill towns on a bus to Cinque Terre (can someone tell me which ones are "not to miss?") where we will hike from the La Spezia train station to Monterosso al Mare (again, is Armani required for this?), get on another train to Pisa, another to Venice, a round trip gondola ride from and back to the train station, back to Florence, down to the Amalfi Coast with a quick stop in Naples for a pizza (although we may try to fit in a ferry ride to Capri right before that - does anyone know where I can get tickets online?) and then back to Rome on the 7th day.

So can anyone recommend some good parks to pitch our tent in that will fit into the above itinerary where we can use the public toilets in our Armani (and as long as I can still consider the over $200 big white sneakers)?

Thank you!

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Yes and no. BUT:

. You obviously need to factor in the Chickengun issue.

. You need to ask about short train connection times.

. You need to worry about Rolex snatchers at Naples pizza joints.

. You will need an IDL or you can be fined 'on the spot'.

. You may not sleep in ZTLs.

. Scott-Armonoi has a special travel vest with a chain link inner pocket so you won't need a money belt. Similarly. Pack-Goosey makes an excellent purse for you partner.

. You need to decide if you will leave your passports on the park bench or carry them with you while you're out and about.

. Mr Steves makes an excellent podcast entitled Guide to Park Benches with a Gelato Guide supplement. Both are available elsewhere in this website.

. You should seek recommendations for Private Guides to all areas.

This is what we did on our recent trip to Italia in 1967.

Chow. Have a great trip!!!

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

You've certainly raised some interesting questions. As you know Italian law is very complex. Here are the things I know for certain:

Avoiding being stopped by the police can ONLY be done by wearing a blue suit from an Italian designer whose name ends in a consonant.

Skinny, pointy toed shoes ARE required in the public toilets - for both sexes.

Your partner MUST have a designer bag for each designer outfit. Sorry - there will need to be much shopping done!

Now I have heard from a friend of a cousin who' sister has an uncle who married the grandson of the wife of an ex-mall cop in Italy that you can sleep in the ZTL's on days of the week that do not end in a vowel.

Hope this helps.

Posted by Bets
2545 posts

I suggest you use the toilet on the plane and then just hold it until you are ready to leave Italy. It takes practice, but ask a working mother how it's done, practice before your trip, and I'm sure you'll be fine. Bon voyage.

Posted by Larry
Carmel, CA, USA
520 posts

James, given your special needs, you may be better off traveling to another spot, other than Italy. You might consider visiting another quite popular area known as "upper US", if you haven't been there. (:->))))

And Quirite, I had no idea you Italians were SOOOOOO serious!

On this lovely 5th of July, why don't some of you over there in the old country tell us what the temperature readings are!

Posted by Quirite
Rome, Lazio, Italy
313 posts

On this lovely 5th of July, why don't some of you over there in the old country tell us what the temperature readings are!

No idea, but it's blistering hot with no wind whatsoever. And it's humid.

(And, uhm, yeah... I only realised after the third paragraph that the whole thread's a joke. Silly me!).

Posted by peg
59 posts

If the Pope is at his summer home this month, maybe you can stay at his place?

Posted by Doug
3307 posts

The frequent answer regardless of question (FARQ) is, of course, to stay at the Pensione Guerrato. Given your circumstances, however, it must be the park beside the Pensione Guerrato.

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
6272 posts

OP, I think all your questions are valid but you forgot to ask how much to tip, either in a restaurant or a public toilet. ;-)

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
1198 posts

Just wondered if you would be using the bindle-packing method for your Rick Steves Suitcase on a Stick or will you use a cube?

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
7884 posts

OMG, finally...some humor here.
Thanks to the OP and his co-conspirators. Well done.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

I spewed coffee on my screen when I got to Ed's comment about having to decide whether to leave the passport on the park bench...

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1558 posts

James, you forgot to ask about the fashion police at the airport. If on arrival you aren't wearing the highest high fashion, you can't even get into the country so all your other worries would be for naught.

Posted by Char
San Francisco
51 posts

James, such great questions! Really, you should post them on the Slow Travel Board, as well.

Look for discounted Armani Hazmat suits and the rare white $200 Armani painter's $hoe protectors at your local Nordstrom Rack. They will work well for the generally woeful Rome and Italian public toilets aka "gabinetti". Bring you own toilet paper/seat cover/sanitary wipes in your packing cube.

I asked a Chianti winery owner a "good place for a picnic" and she said: "Senora! Tutto Italia!"
So, I'd guess Campo de'Fiori would be a suitable (hey!) tent site in Roma.


Posted by Jean
Mill Creek, WA, USA
435 posts

James, I know you like to pack light, so be sure that stick for your RS's Clothing Satchel on a Stick is no longer than 22", or you'll need to stop in the toilet at least twice will waiting for your Satchel to arrive at the airport carousel.

Skip the blue Armani. From this reliable movie source, "Father of the Bride" quote: George: What're you talking about? Armani doesn't make a blue tuxedo.
Franck Eggelhoffer: Armani don't also make "polyaster."

And Verona has a lovely park near the arena, so you may want to add a day to your Italian fantasy!

Posted by Dave
Ventura, CA, USA
718 posts

James, James, James…you'll want to watch La Grande Belleza (The Great Beauty) before departure. In it, you'll notice a few things: 1. Jep Gambardella wears blue. 2: Jep Gambardella is very cool. 3. Jep Gambardella has a luxury apartment in Rome that looks onto the Colosseum, where he has excellent parties. 4. Jep Gambardella has no problems, and neither will you. 5. Jep Gambardella does not use public toilets.

Posted by Dave
Ventura, CA, USA
718 posts

Take heart though, James, for the police in Italy are very friendly, and what's more, they are a thoughtful bunch, not like those brutes back home in San Anselmo. They, like Jep, also wear blue. Don't fret, you'll have a great trip, just don't leave your passport on the park bench.

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
6272 posts

And nicely done on the itinerary, James. It's so painfully close to what a lot of people think would be a good one.

Posted by James
San Anselmo, California
296 posts

Ah haha!

Great additions! I left out a bunch of things, because I didn't want it to go on forever (ha!)...

Thanks to all for participating and in good humor as well - it's good that we can laugh every now and then!

In the end, the RS Italy board is a great place, and so many good people willing to give advice and help other people out.

Travel safely,

James :)

Posted by James
San Anselmo, California
296 posts

Here's the part I forgot:

Once you give me your best answer to the question I am asking you for, I will come back and tell you why you are wrong, and why my itinerary is fine, why I will get by in the Armani with the sneakers and why I don't have to actually find a park to pitch our tent in (because I can do it right at whatever the "top sightseeing spot" is and kill two birds with one tent pole, and why I travel a certain way that you don't understand and that I don't need your stinkin' opinions ('cause everyone's got one), so there!